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Finance

A Budget for net zero?

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has delivered what has been dubbed as a ‘back to work Budget’.

Presenting the government’s financial commitments in the Commons, Mr Hunt made a series of announcements on energy and infrastructure.

Energy bills

In advance of the announcement, the Treasury disclosed that assistance for energy bills will be extended until the conclusion of June.

The Chancellor said: “There is still enormous pressure on family finances. Some people remain in real distress and we should always stand ready to help when we can.

“So after listening to representations from Martin Lewis and other experts, I today confirm that the Energy Price Guarantee will remain at £2,500 for the next three months.

“This will remain in place when energy prices remain high ahead of the unexpected fall in prices from July. This measure will save the average family a further £160 pounds on top of the energy support measures already announced.”

Mr Hunt said the second measure concerns more than four million households on prepayment meters.

The Chancellor explained: “They are often the poorest. But they currently pay more than comparable customers on direct debit. Ofgem has already agreed with suppliers to a temporary suspension to force installations of prepayment meters. But today I go further and confirm we will bring their charges in line with comparable direct debit charges.”

Mr Hunt has also confirmed that fuel duty will also be frozen.

Energy efficiency

The Chancellor said: “I extend the Climate Change Agreement scheme for two years to allow eligible businesses £600 million of tax relief on energy efficiency measures for the long term solution – it is not a subsidy, but security. That means investing in domestic sources of energy.”

Nuclear power – sustainable 

The Chancellor has said the UK needs more nuclear power – he said nuclear will qualify to for same investment incentives as renewable energy.

Jeremy Hunt said: “ I today confirm that subject to consultation nuclear power will be classed as environmentally sustainable.

“This will give it access to the same investment as renewable energy and alongside that will come more public investment. In the Autumn Statement, I announced the state finance investment in nuclear for a generation a £700 million investment in Sizewell C. Today, I can announce two further commitments to deliver our nuclear ambitions.

“I am announcing the launch of Great British Nuclear, which will bring down costs and provide opportunities across the nuclear supply chain to help provide one-quarter of our electricity by 2050. And secondly, I am launching the first competition for small modular reactors. It will be completed by the end of this year and if demonstrated as viable, we will co-fund this exciting new technology.”

Investment in CCUS 

The Chancellor has also said he will allocate up to £20bn for the early development of carbon capture and storage.

Mr Hunt said: “We are world leaders in renewable energy, so today I want to develop another part of our green economy, carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) and allocate up to £20 billion of support for the early development of the CCUS, starting with projects for our East coast to Merseyside to North Wales, paving the way for CCUS everywhere across the UK.”

Investment zones 

As the government aims to boost the UK’s sluggish economic growth, one of the Treasury’s initiatives involves the establishment of new Investment zones and regeneration projects throughout England.

The Chancellor’s Budget is being presented at a time when the country’s public finances are vulnerable, with increased government borrowing required to provide aid to individuals in managing the cost of living.

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