Spring Budget 2023 response
Stonewater's Chief Executive responds to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's latest budget.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, has delivered his latest budget to the country with a focus on energy prices, inflation and growth. Of course, our focus is how our customers affected by the announcements.
Energy Price Guarantee
We welcome the extension of the government’s Energy Price Guarantee for a further three months as this will continue to support many of our customers who are struggling to make ends meet. We are disappointed however that our customers in retired and supported living schemes who receive their energy supply via a communal system, are not currently protected by the same Ofgem energy price cap as those who live in individual domestic homes and who get their energy directly from a supplier.
We would much prefer and urge the government to balance this out and help those with commercial supplies. We have been campaigning through the National Housing Federation to highlight this position and we are hopeful more can be done to recognise the impacts on people in retirement or supported schemes.
Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund
We have been leading the way in the use of heat pumps and other technologies that help cut energy bills as well as carbon emissions. There remains a great opportunity for the country to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, while helping train the workforce of the future in renewable technologies. I would urge the government to accelerate the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund so housing providers can get on and improve the energy performance of social rented homes, helping hit the government’s 2050 net zero-carbon target.
The journey to decarbonisation has the potential to boost the economy, creating hundreds of thousands of new green jobs for local communities. The New Economics Foundation estimate that we need an additional 429,000 retrofitters to deliver our housing decarbonisation objective by 2030. We are calling on the government to implement a comprehensive national retrofit strategy to scale up locally led initiatives and deliver joined up action on retrofit skills development.
Without support and intervention, people will continue to live in inefficient homes with high energy bills, and we’ll see a repeat of this winter in the years to come.
Expanding Free Childcare Support
The Chancellor has recognised the impact of the cost of childcare can have on families by expanding free childcare support to younger children, something which will undoubtedly be helpful to some of our customers as this can sometimes be very prohibitive to parents going back to work.
In a pleasing move by the government, they are providing an additional £33 million over the next three years to increase the service provided to veterans, including support for those with serious physical injury resulting from their service and increasing the availability of veteran housing. We ourselves have supported veterans in the past through The Alabaré Veterans Self-Build project at Drummond Park in Wiltshire and the Noden's Mews scheme in Leominster where former service personnel helped to build homes and our Noden's Mews scheme in Leominster built their own homes; providing them with valuable, transferable skills that they can bring to the workplace.