Net Zero Strategy marks foundation on which to build, say small firms

Responding to publication of the Government’s Heat & Buildings and Net Zero Strategies, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chair Mike Cherry said:

“The commitments in these documents mark a starting point – a foundation on which government can build the support measures small firms will need to achieve net zero.  

“It’s good to see that small firms will qualify for the new £5,000 heat pump grant. The billions committed to investment in local transport infrastructure is much needed, and should be deployed swiftly.   

“Where the Government is promising funding for zero-emission vehicle grants and private investment via the new UK infrastructure bank, it’s essential that these interventions are designed to benefit small firms.

“Fundamentally though, where the net zero strategy is concerned, we have a 368-page document that contains only four specific mentions of small business, and two of those are in reference to smart meter statistics.

“Our 5.6 million small firms make up 99% of the business community. Unless they are empowered to make change with the right information, direct support and incentives – including reform of a business rates system that punishes sustainable investment – net zero targets simply won’t be met.

“So we need to see much more. All eyes will be on next week’s Budget.

“If the Treasury wants to secure the incremental gains that will make the difference, it needs to help free up funds for investment, innovation and reskilling. Instead, it’s set to hit employers, sole traders and employees with a National Insurance hike that will stifle sustainable investment and our nascent recovery.

“Reducing costs for small firms whilst providing them with concrete incentives to drive change will be fundamental to making net zero a reality.”