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Government announces fresh proposals to help decarbonise UK homes

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The government has announced proposals to decarbonise UK homes through which households will be offered grants to install heat pumps.

With homes said to account for 13% of the UK’s carbons emissions, the latest proposals aim to ensure that heat pumps are no more expensive to buy and run for consumers than fossil fuel boilers.  The government also confirmed its ambition for all new heating systems installed in UK homes to be low carbon from 2035.

Under the proposals, some households will be able to access £5,000 worth of grants designed to incentivize the installation of low-carbon heating systems, particularly at the point when they are considering replacing or upgrading their current boiler.

Last week, a YouGov poll found that three in five of the British public had either never heard of, or barely knew anything about, heat pumps.

Two weeks in advance of the COP26 summit to be held in Glasgow, the government hopes that encouraging a move away from gas and oil boilers will both reduce the UK’s dependency on fossil fuels and its exposure to global price spikes, whilst supporting up to 240,000 jobs by 2035.

Announcing the proposals, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “As we clean up the way we heat our homes over the next decade, we are backing our brilliant innovators to make clean technology like heat pumps as cheap to buy and run as gas boilers – supporting thousands of green jobs.”

The latest proposals appear to have received some support from both industry and environmental groups.

Simone Rossi, Chief Executive of EDF Energy UK Simone Rossi, said: “Moving away from fossil fuel heating to electric heat pumps will significantly reduce the carbon footprint of our homes and could also protect consumers from future spikes in wholesale gas prices.”

Joe Tetlow, senior political adviser at Green Alliance, said: “The pledge to phase out gas boilers by 2035 is truly world-leading and demonstrates serious climate leadership ahead of COP26.”

The left-leaning think tank, the Institute of Public Policy Research, also said the government appeared to be heading in the right direction.  It did however suggest that the grants were not generous enough, and called for the sale of new oil fired boilers to be banned by 2028, with new gas boilers prohibited by 2033.

The government’s proposals have though been attacked by political opponents.

Ed Miliband, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary responded by saying: “As millions of families face an energy and cost of living crisis, this is a meagre, unambitious and wholly inadequate response.”

Wera Hobhouse MP, the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Energy and Climate Change described the plans as “a kick in the teeth for families across the country facing soaring energy bills this winter”, arguing they will do little to help people out of fuel poverty and hardly make a dent in the emissions produced from homes.

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme is part of a wider £3.9 billion funding programme designed to support decarbonising heat and buildings from 2022 to 2025.

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Trump says Boris making ‘big mistake’ with wind, adding environmentalists ‘hate the world’

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Former US President Donald Trump has weighed back into British politics this evening, savaging the British government’s approach to wind power.

In his first TV interview to foreign media for over a year, Donald Trump was speaking to former UKIP leader Nigel Farage for his show on GB News.

Commenting on wind energy, Trump said, “I think wind is ridiculous.  I think wind is a horrible thing for Scotland, and I got to see it, because I own magnificent properties in Scotland and in Ireland. And I look at these magnificent fields with horrible windmills all over them, and windmills is a nice term”

Claiming that wind power is the most expensive form of energy, and one which can’t work without subsidy, Trump suggested that after a couple of years, wind turbines, “start to rust, and wear out, and look terrible, look even worse”.  He also suggested they “kill all the birds”.

Turning his guns on British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, Trump told GB News that, “If Boris is going heavy into wind, he is wrong, he is making a big mistake”.

“In the UK it is all over the place.  You fly over the place, and I say what a shame what they have done. And you know the environmentalists are liking this stuff. I think they hate the world”.

Referring to his relationship with Boris Johnson, Trump said, “I like him.  I have always got along with him. He has got a little bit more on the liberal side, but I tell you, with energy, I am surprised that he would allow that to happen, because you have one of the most beautiful countries in the world.  And you are destroying it with all these wind turbines all over the place”.

Doubling down on his criticism, the former US President repeated his dislike of the Aberdeen Bay Wind Farm, describing it as “disgusting to look at”.  Trump previously purchased the Menie estate near Aberdeen.

During the interview, the former US President appeared to receive some support from Nigel Farage for his views on wind turbines, with the former UKIP leader commenting, “Well I have to say that I am not a great fan of them”.

The UK wind industry is said to comprise over 11,000 turbines, the sixth largest number in the world.  In 2020, wind power contributed a quarter of the UK’s energy generation.    Wind is now the largest source of renewable energy in the UK with the government planning a further expansion of offshore capacity in the next decade.

Previous polling has suggested that British voters don’t share Donald Trump’s views on wind. In May 2020, a Public Attitudes Tracker published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy showed that offshore wind had the backing of 81% of people, with onshore wind close behind at 77%.

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Re:Construction Podcast – Episode 89

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Retentions – with Lord Aberdare

Read Full Article: The Construction Index

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Government launches ‘ambitious’ social care plans

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Social care minister Gillian Keegan has claimed the government’s new white paper on adult social care provides an “ambitious 10-year vision”.

Ms Keegan told MPs that many of the sector’s issues are so problematic “that successive governments over decades have decided to duck them rather than deal with them but this Government is determined to get it right.”

Launching the paper, she explained that it was “underpinned by three core principles” – to ensure “everybody has choice, control and support to live independent lives”.

Last week the government was criticised by a number of its own MPs over plans to change the calculation of the social care cap. 

The new proposals will see those eligible for state support left unable to count the money towards the cap. Critics say the changes would significantly disadvantage the poorest in society.

She emphasises that the £300 million investment would  “support local authorities to increase the range of new supported housing options”.

Ex-health secretary Jeremy Hunt reiterated his stance that the plans were “three steps forward, two steps back”.

He told the Commons this afternoon: “The step forward which we should acknowledge is the introduction of a cap. Whatever the arguments about what counts towards the cap, having a cap will make a big difference to many people and that is welcome.”

He said the local authorities that organise the care are  “barely” allocated enough to deal with “demographic change and the national living wage increases”.

He also highlighted that it was “hard to see an end to the workforce crisis which leaves 40 per cent turnover in many companies”.

He said the minister must rollout better measures to “deal with those huge problems”, as hospital wards “continue to be full of people who should be discharged and older people not getting the care they need because the carers do not exist.”

Liz Kendall, Labour’s shadow minister for social care also criticised the plans, claiming that they had  “two central flaws”  as they “utterly failed to deal with the immediate pressures” of waiting lists and staff shortages.

She also complained that the proposal did not outline “more fundamental reforms we need to deliver a care system fit for the future”.

“Where was the long-term strategy to transform the pay, training, terms and conditions of care workers to deliver at least half a million additional care workers by 2030 just to meet growing demand?” she went on.

Commenting on the publication of the Government’s adult social care reform White Paper, People at the Heart of Care, Sally Warren, Director of Policy at The King’s Fund said: “The overall vision in the White Paper is the right one and if delivered could significantly improve the experience of people receiving care and those who work in the sector. However, the steps outlined don’t go fast or far enough to achieve this vision and the funding allocated to deliver it is insufficient. In particular, although there are some welcome commitments on training and skills for staff, there is little to tackle poor workforce pay and conditions and high vacancy levels in the sector.

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