So the Chancellor stole David Cameron’s thunder with headline grabbing cuts in income and corporation tax. Judging by the spike in the FTSE during the speech, as soon as traders heard the words ‘tax’ and ‘cut’ they shouted ‘buy’.
As the dust settles, the real world, where the bad news is buried in the detail, is reasserting itself. Although the basic rate of income tax is coming down from 22p to 20p in April 2008, the chancellor is abolishing the 10p lower rate too. Many of the goodies are deferred to 2008, 2009, or even 2010.
Liz Reason, a climate change consultant and director of the AECB, the sustainable building association, who lives in a house once ranked third in the top ten energy efficient homes in the country (it’s relevant, trust me) agrees:
It’s only for pensioners. What we need is a 20-year programme of refurbishment of existing homes to high energy efficiency standers. The first thing Angela Merkel did when she came in as German chancellor was announce a systematic programme of refurbishment. Will the pensioners even apply for the grants?
The real problem with energy efficiency is inertia, she says, and the Government should take a lead.
Exempting new zero-carbon homes from stamp duty is unworkable she says, because she doesn’t think there are any:
Nobody really knows how to build a zero carbon home yet and there is no programme of measurement, so how will we know that a home is eligible for this rebate?
No builder has ever been prosecuted for failing to meet building regulations on energy efficiency, she says, so she expects the Treasury just to accept people’s word that their homes are efficient.
It’s always the case with Gordon Brown. He hasn’t got climate change in his heart. He’s terrified of anything that would upset voters. Sometime somebody’s got to bite the bullet, and it’s not going to be Gordon Brown.
The Devil’s in the detail, they say. Have you spotted him?