UK Budget 2021: Our thoughts
Covering a total £400bn investment, this weeks’ budget has certainly turned heads, but did we expect anything different after a difficult year for the public purse (to put it lightly).
What is clear is that the government has chosen to spend – rather than cut back – their way out of this crisis. As a result, we’ve seen a drastic boost to Net-Zero programmes, fresh investment in innovative sectors and a vote of confidence in SMEs to help dig us out of this hole.
Here are our hot takes from this years’ budget.
🌱 Help to Grow: A vote of confidence in the tech startup ecosystem
A raft of new packages to accelerate the growth of SMEs was announced including grants to help small businesses access digital productivity tools, management and digital training programmes and fast-track visa arrangements for highly-skilled foreign talent.
It’s a big vote of confidence in the UK SME ecosystem. Whilst the measures seem to be more focused on the tech sector, they show that the government wants – and expects – SMEs to play a key role in helping bring the economy back on track. For us, we see this as a big plus, with smaller organisations being recognised and supported so readily.
🏦 UK Infrastructure Bank – building back better
To be created in Leeds, this new bank will aim to fund £40bn worth of UK-wide projects, including support for private sector and local government infrastructure initiatives that meet climate and regional goals.
Improving infrastructure and regional development is central to the levelling up agenda, and one that must be done in the right way. The positive take away here that climate goals must be considered for projects – will this actually happen? Who’s to say, but we certainly think that any large projects need to have CleanTech as a central element.
📈 Levelling up Fund: a much-needed boost to towns and cities
A £4.8bn fund has been announced which will support local governments to regenerate high-streets, invest in new transport initiatives and other culturally important projects. Bids can be submitted F.Y 2021 – 2022 and will favour applications that support Net-Zero goals.
Our Covid-recovery will require heavy investment in building back local businesses and high-streets which have been starved of funds. This regeneration can’t happen with a business as usual mentality; another crisis is looming that needs to be addressed, so this presents a key opportunity to build back better. A big thumbs up from us.
💵 Net-Zero Innovation Fund: Innovation and Net-Zero fueling growth
The Chancellor confirmed a new Net-Zero Innovation Portfolio totalling £1bn, to help fund sectors including long-duration energy storage; floating offshore wind; biomass and regenerative agriculture – all on a competitive basis.
Whilst not a green-new deal level, it’s a striking vision of the future of the country; a world-leader in CleanTech innovations. This is what is being banked upon to bring us out of our financial nosedive and will pave the way for the future. It’s a crowd-pleaser and one that we agree with, let’s hope this gamble pays off and uptake and support is there for this bold new vision to eventuate.
Investment vs austerity is the central point here, with a crucial gamble being played; the UK must become an international hub for CleanTech innovations and projects. Dubbed the Saudi Arabia for clean energy, the priority is clear – innovation in high-growth sectors will save us.