The Mountain Laboured and brought forth a Mouse. Or, there is such a thing as (half) a free lunch.

The failure of the Conservative Government to have any sense of proportion about whats important and what isn’t in the less than stimulating stimulus package announced yesterday, is both appalling and predictable.

Faced with a climate emergency that is going to destroy human civilisation unless we make a serious and immediate investment in a transition to sustainability – a policy that has overwhelming public support – the Chancellor of the Exchequer today earmarked just £3 billion to it.

Roll that number around in your head for a moment. £3 billion. Thats

– less than a quarter of the cost of a third runway at Heathrow (£14 billion)

– less than one sixth the cost of Crossrail (£18 billion)

– less than a thirty fifth of the cost of HS2 (£106 billion).

That looks like this.

You wouldn’t want to think that saving human civilisation was as important as any of these would you?

More to the immediate point, it is only one pound for every nine they are spending on roads. That looks like this, showing the balance in Conservative souls between saving civilisation and building some bypasses.

Spending announcements in billions 8/7/20

The enormous gap between what is needed and what they are prepared to do in retrofitting homes is as stark as their plans for school buildings. Last week they announced that they would retrofit less than a twentieth of what is needed by 2030. Today they announced plans for retrofitting just 650,000 houses out of the 15 million that need doing. That looks like this.

Retrofitting announcement 8/7/20 in thousands of pounds

The phrase “Mind the gap” comes to mind.

The £2 billion being allocated to this is well below the effort being made in comparable countries, which can be seen here.

Budget allocation for home insulation

This is also being done as a Voucher Scheme whereby individual households apply for support. This is probably the least efficient way of doing it, but has been chosen because it will work through the market as a series of individualised consumer decisions made by people who think they can afford the outlay and who can navigate the online application process. It could therefore to fall as flat as the Cameron government’s “Green Deal”, launched with much fanfare in 2013 and buried two years later after a derisory uptake that cost more than it saved. Investing in Local Authorities working through entire estates in one go to target people in fuel poverty and take advantage of economies of scale would be far more effective and have more of a sense of a collective social mission to transform society as a whole. Which is why its the last thing they’ll do.

Rishi Sunak’s other measures – offering to subsidise half of a meal out on dull days at the beginning of the week for two and a half weeks in August, a bonus of £1000 (wow) for every worker kept on beyond furlough until January, and a stamp duty holiday for those few who can still afford to buy a house (until next Spring) while having no plans to invest in building more- are little more than gimmicks of mass distraction and serve only to show the imaginative limits of a government structurally incapable and unwilling to do what is needed and hoping to muddle through while whistling into the wind with its fingers crossed.

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