On Wednesday 8 July, Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered his summer statement, announcing a number of interventions to help stimulate the economic recovery from Coronavirus. With measures tackling issues raised in the CIPHE’s manifesto for the plumbing and heating industry - such as education and energy efficiency - this mini budget is set to have a particular impact on the sector.
The outlook for young people has been top of the agenda in recent weeks, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson enthusiastic about the concept of apprenticeship guarantees. Such a commitment would enable everyone between the ages of 16 and 25, with the right qualifications, access to an apprenticeship in a relevant business or social enterprise.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak today developed this theme, committing to paying employers to create new apprenticeships over the next six months, with a payment of £2,000 per apprentice under the age of 25 and a payment of £1,500 for older apprentices hired.
The Chancellor also announced the introduction of a new ‘Kickstart jobs scheme’ to create work placements for unemployed young people and £111m investment into Traineeships, by offering businesses £1,000 for every trainee they give a work placement to.
The news on education and employment opportunities comes on top of the Government’s announcement on ‘Green Home’ vouchers. Under the Green Homes Grant scheme, the government will pay up to two-thirds of the cost of energy saving home improvements as homeowners in England receive vouchers up to £5000, while the poorest households will be eligible for grants up to £10,000, without having to contribute to the cost at all. The £2bn grant scheme is part of a wider £3bn plan to cut emissions while also helping to support more than 100,000 jobs.
The scheme, due to launch in September, will cover improvements such as boiler upgrades, double glazing and insulation. Homeowners will apply online for recommended energy efficient measures and be given details of accredited local suppliers. Vouchers will be issued once a quote has been provided and the work approved.
In addition, there was good news for homebuyers, with Stamp Duty temporarily exempt below £500,000, and for employers bringing furloughed staff back to work, with a £1,000 job retention bonus per employee, for those still in employment until the end of January 2021.
Kevin Wellman, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) said, “The Chancellor’s summer statement offers a much-needed boost to the plumbing and heating industry. The Green Home Grant in particular will help increase demand, providing much needed work opportunities for businesses and moving the net-zero agenda forwards, while the cut in Stamp Duty will help revive the housing market and increase demand for home improvements. Ensuring such remedial work is carried out by competent persons is essential.”
“While we welcome financial help for employers taking on new apprentices, we would urge Government to dig deeper to help micro SMEs. Without employers, there are no apprenticeship places and many members of the plumbing and heating industry have been hit hardest of all by the country’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic. We also need to see increased support for the over 25’s and for the wider education sector. With a large wave of redundancies forecast to hit the country when the furlough scheme ends, there are many people likely to be changing career who run the risk of signing onto rogue training courses without adequate measures introduced.”