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We need an economic plan with a green heart

The Chancellor needs to deliver a fully thought out budget for months ahead, writes Ed Davey. | PA Images

4 min read

The Chancellor has suggested he will spend just £3bn on green investment, but we need investment of £150bn over the next three years to truly transform our economy.

In the face of tremendous economic uncertainty, never has the need for hope been more acute.

With the UK economy in freefall, millions already facing unemployment and thousands of families unable to afford to put food on the table - let alone pay their rent or a mortgage - people across the country will be hanging on every word of the Chancellor's emergency budget tomorrow.

Millions desperately need a lifeline.

In the immediate term, the Government must increase support for those most in need. This must include the millions of self-employed people who have been left out of Government support, either because they started up in the last tax year, or are owner-managers of their own company, as well as the freelance workers who have so far been unfairly excluded from the financial support packages.

The Chancellor simply cannot let them slip through the net. He must make this the starting point of his budget statement.  

Beyond immediate relief for those in dire need, the Chancellor needs to deliver a fully thought out budget for months ahead. This is not just about kick-starting our recovery in the wake of this dreadful virus, but also about building a better future for the next generation, who have seen their prospects dashed by Covid-19.

We need the Conservatives to accept the need to extend the transition with the EU, work hard on getting the best possible deal with our European allies

Ensuring their future isn't thwarted in the long-term means the Conservative Government must deliver an economic strategy that rests on principles of sustainability, to address the Climate Emergency so that our children and grandchildren can enjoy the beauty, diversity and splendour of our remarkable planet. We need an economic plan with a green heart.

The Liberal Democrats know that a plan built around these goals - a Green Recovery Plan - is the only realistic way out of the current quagmire. This represents a once in a generation moment to push to decarbonise capitalism and redefine our economy along sustainable lines.

By prioritising investment in sustainable technologies, from our transport systems to our energy sector to our food packaging, textiles and consumer goods right across the board, we can make choices now for an economic renewal that will last.

As things stand the Chancellor has suggested he will spend just £3bn on green investment. This is nowhere near the scale that we want to see - in fact, such limited focus on sustainability will dash any hope of hitting net zero on carbon emissions by 2050, let alone any earlier than that.

Liberal Democrats are calling for ambition way beyond this. We want to see £150bn invested over the next three years, to truly transform our economy.

We want to see urgent efforts to insulate our housing stock, to upscale our renewable energies, to restore our natural environment, building flood resilience and bringing back biodiversity, and to get people into electric cars or other sustainable forms of transport.

With the right incentives, the UK can lead the way in developing innovative technologies that deliver a new industry standard when it comes to product life-cycles.

We can hugely upscale our capacity to reuse and recycle consumer goods. All of this will breathe life and vigour into our flailing economy. Most importantly, it will serve our needs now and long into the future.

Finally, if we are to find a way out of the current crisis and build back, then we need the Conservatives to accept the need to extend the transition with the EU, work hard on getting the best possible deal with our European allies, and make sure that we are best placed to bounce back from this crisis. Delivering a bad deal or worse, no deal at all, will be a huge extra blow for businesses and jobs just when we need to be recovering from this crisis.

With measures to support people in need now, investment in a greener future, and pragmatism about the real cost of a rushed Brexit deal, the Chancellor can deliver a budget that gives people real hope for the future.


Ed Davey is a Liberal Democract MP for Kingston and Surbiton, treasury spokesperson and acting leader of the Liberal Democrats. 

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