Budget missed opportunity for green recovery, says Farry

Environment Stephen Farry

Today’s Budget from the Chancellor is a missed opportunity to invest properly in a green-led economic recovery, Alliance MP Stephen Farry has said.

Dr Farry said the scale of Rishi Sunak’s interventions also fell short of what is required to address the scale of the health and economic challenges coming out of the pandemic.

“There are many individual announcements from this Budget which can be given a qualified welcome on their own merits. However, the overall tenor is too restrictive,” said the Alliance Deputy Leader.

“The recovery from the pandemic will not be straightforward or automatic. In keeping with many other countries around the world, the UK should be undertaking a significant economic stimulus in the region of eight per cent of GDP or over £150 billion in value. This can be more readily managed given the current low level of interest rates. Moreover, there is an unnecessary obsession around keeping national debt levels below 100 per cent of the value of GDP. This has been exceeded in other times in UK history. It is not necessary for the Government to squeeze public finances so quickly.

“Crucially, any stimulus needs to be a green stimulus. Alongside the need for a sustained economic recovery, the UK must do much more to fulfil its responsibilities to address the climate emergency. So it makes sense to direct government support to resourcing a Green New Deal across a broad range of interventions from energy efficiency, renewables and restoring nature.

“The extension to furlough and the self-employed support are welcome interventions and should provide breathing space for an evidenced-based approach for relaxing the lockdown. I have been campaigning for the Treasury to address those who have been excluded from COVID financial support. I therefore welcome the extension to the use of 19/20 financial year accounts, but will continue to seek redress for other excluded groups.

“However, while the extension of the £20 uplift on universal credit and the increase in the national minimum wage are helpful, they do not go far enough to adequately address the increasingly problematic inherent economic inequality due to COVID-19, and more must be done to protect the most vulnerable in society.”