Budget response: Saving the high street and net zero ambitions
Chancellor Rishi Sunak today unveiled his budget, designed to help the economy recover from the effects of covid-19. Among the measures announced were pots of money to help support community ownership of social venues.
Experts from the University of Salford Business School respond with their take on what was announced;
Dr Gordon Fletcher, retail expert, said: “The Chancellor's budget offered a predictable and even inevitable response to the cost of the pandemic. However, within the details some surprising initiatives emerged. The Community Ownership Fund offers the prospect of local groups 'buying the pub' or sport clubs. This opportunity picks up the growing sense of the local that has emerged during the past year and may provide a lifeline to some of the social venues that have suffered the most. Of course enabling community ownership of these venues may also represent the failure of a previously successful business.
“The £4.8bn Levelling Up fund is the other opportunity on the table for high streets. The focus is on big infrastructure projects such as buying brownfield as well as supporting cultural institutions including local museums. The challenge will be to get proposed projects lined up with the economic need in each locality. As is often the case with budget announcements, the prospect of success for these funding initiatives and these projects will come down to the details. Not least the choice of which project each MP will decide to support.”
Dr Jonathan Owens, logistics and infrastructure expert, said: “It is encouraging that the budget provided further direction on net zero emissions to try to maintain pace with the 2030 deadline for the cessation of traditional fuel vehicle sales and moving to the sales of electric and hybrid vehicles only after this date.
“This was provided by the Treasury reforming the Bank of England’s mandate to include targeting net zero emissions, this was on top of the existing 2% inflation target. While green announcements are an expectation in budgets, because of the current pandemic today’s announcement is relatively modest.
“Despite the Transport Secretary recently suggesting the UK’s charging infrastructure is “World Leading” the rollout of electric vehicle charging points has fallen behind what is needed for the 2030 as claimed by a recent Policy Exchange think-tank. The UK will need 400,000 public chargers by 2030, up from 35,000 currently to reduce the risk of “charging blackspots.” Therefore, this was perhaps an opportunity missed for a post-COVID-19 green infrastructure revolution to support the UK’s road to net zero.”
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