06 December 2006

Gordon Brown's Profoundly Unambitious Vision

You can read the entire pre-budget report here (it's 1.4MB and you'll need Adobe Acrobat reader).

- if all new homes will be zero carbon by 2016, that's too far in the future. FOE point out that "a far greater priority is the existing stock - each year new houses contribute just 1% to the overall stock. The overwhelming priority is measures for 99% of houses now, not 1% of houses in 10 years time."

- there was no increase in funding for the Low Carbon Buildings Programme (LCBP); what is desperately needed is assistance with the up-front capital costs of homeowners who want to do their bit and invest in microgeneration

- doubling Air Passenger Duty won't deter flying; research by the Civil Aviation Authority has revealed the average income of passengers passing through Stansted Airport last year topped £50,000 per annum. As Green MEP Caroline Lucas has said: "If this government is serious about tackling greenhouse gas emissions from transport - their fastest growing source - it could halt all aviation expansion and road-building schemes tomorrow."

on non-environmental matters:

- the new economics foundation is calling for "the decision to withdraw the Post Office Card Account to be reviewed in the light of new findings of the potentially devastating impact its withdrawal will have for post offices in urban deprived areas." Over the past two years, more than eight urban post offices have closed for every rural post office closed, with more than one in six of the urban post office closures taking place in deprived areas. Brown talks a good game on encouraging enterprise, but each post office saves small businesses in their direct vicinity in the region of £270,000 each year. As well, for every £10 earned in income, a post office generates £16.20 for its local economy.

- 1.5p on petrol won't get people out of their cars and onto trains, when the government remains committed to a privitised oligopolistic rail network (hmm, which train company should I use from Coventry to London, from Coventry to Manchester, from Coventry to Reading ... Virgin, Virgin or Virgin?)

- an honest Chancellor would outline the long-term costs of PFI projects across the country (paying on the never-never instead of from up-front taxation).

- the pre-budget report calls for every government department to examine each of their assets and consider the case for sale. A register of possible assets to be sold is to be published in January. Sounds like a mass part-privitisation of government for 2007.

- finally, it's funny how the report didn't mention the crisis over VAT on construction of Olympic sites, or the cost overruns that will inevitably come from a national ID card project, or our huge levels of personal debt.

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