How to get involved in the government’s green agenda in 2021

How to get involved in the government’s green agenda in 2021

Although COVID19 has somewhat derailed business as usual, the government is ardent to get back to a more normal political agenda this year. Key for Boris Johnson will be to find a cause that goes beyond Brexit to keep newly found Red Wall voters on site. Since the publication of the ’10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’, the green agenda has taken centre-stage in government thinking. Britain hosting the G7 and COP26 this year also offers plenty of opportunities to shine as a leader on climate change on the world stage.

As the green agenda goes mainstream, the field gets more and more crowded. For businesses and NGOs the question now is how to stand out and get a slice of the pie.

 

Keep it local – especially if you are in the Red Wall

For organizations trying to get government buy-in into their sustainability initiatives, it is worth thinking whether they can go local. Often brands think making a big national splash is most effective, but targeted interventions might help you to stand out to policymakers. It is also helpful to build alliances with backbench campaigners that can speak up about your initiative in their constituency to high-level stakeholders. The government will look towards initiatives it can support in  battleground seats in the Red Wall in particular. Cornwall is hosting the G7 and Glasgow will be the home of COP26 so both of these areas are worth considering for new sustainability roll-outs.

 

Linked to wider strategic government goals

The government will be most receptive to initiatives that show a connection to its wider policy goals, namely to level up the regions and nations of the country and to aid economic recovery after COVID19. Young people are carrying a huge share of the COVID burden as educational and job opportunities were more difficult to access for many. If organisations have the ability to link their sustainability projects with the creation of jobs and apprenticeships, the government will want to hear about it.

 

Secure public buy-in

To successfully push forward the transition to Net Zero, the government will need to ensure that their programs have public buy-in to avoid electoral set-backs.  This goes for both consumer buy-in as well as getting workers in carbon-heavy industries on board.

Research suggests that the majority of the jobs most affected by net zero policies are in Red Wall seats and coastal communities.  The government must work with local businesses to ensure that workers will not lose out on employment or wages if it is serious about levelling up the country. Organisations who have experience facilitating this dialogue will be at an advantage and can secure valuable time with government advisers to share knowledge.

Other measures such as home retrofit or a switch from traditional cars to electric vehicles might come with big costs for consumers and therefore might result in less uptake. Businesses can work with consumers to establish concerns and propose solutions to government to incentivize behavioral changes.

 

Affect change

Taken together these guidelines can help inform public affairs strategies for businesses and brands that want to make an impact on sustainability and position themselves as leaders on the climate change agenda. By linking their work to the government’s priorities, they are more likely to get a seat at the table for existing government initiatives and influence policy changes going forward.

 

If you would like to discuss this topic further, please do not hesitate to get in contact with sabrina.huck@cavendishadvocacy.com.

Tough choices but ‘levelling up’ remains a key policy – 5 key takeaways from the Spending Review

Tough choices but ‘levelling up’ remains a key policy – 5 key takeaways from the Spending Review

In yesterday’s Spending Review the Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out the government’s fiscal priorities for 2021-22 – a task not short of challenges. As the pandemic lingers, the country remains in economic crisis mode: the Office for Budget Responsibility has forecast that GDP will fall by 11.3% this year. Whilst 2021 is expected to return us to growth, the economy is not likely to reach pre-crisis levels before the end of 2022. Sunak faced a tough balancing act between stimulus for suffering businesses; help for overstretched frontline workers; and the Conservative Party’s desire to start delivering on their election promises.

COVID: one more heave

Despite the somewhat bleak figures released by the Office for Budget Responsibility, the Chancellor struck an optimistic tone on the pandemic. Thanks to advancements in vaccine development, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. With this in mind, he set out a fiscal package to help us climb the last COVID mountain.

The government’s strategy on COVID is threefold: responding to the immediate impacts of the pandemic; invest to kickstart the UK’s economic recovery; and link this ‘rebuilding’ of the economy to their environmental and ‘levelling up’ objectives.

The Chancellor has confirmed an additional £38 billion for public services to continue to fight the pandemic this year. This brings the total spending on the COVID-19 response this year to over £280 billion. The Treasury will also provide a further £55 billion of support for the public services response next year to control and suppress the virus and support jobs and businesses.

The government is now keen to push along its domestic policy agenda beyond COVID – with Brexit looming, Boris Johnson’s team will soon have delivered on its biggest promise. So what next to keep the ‘Red Wall’ on side, whilst pleasing the Tory core demographic?

 Our top 5 takeaways from this Spending Review are:

  1. The tough choices made on public sector pay and Foreign Aid

The Chancellor pledged a pay rise to over a million nurses, doctors, and other NHS staff to reward their hard work during the pandemic. Those on the lowest incomes in the public sector, who earn below the median wage of £24,000, will also receive a pay rise of at least £250 next year. But the rest of the public sector will not receive a pay rise next year.

Overseas aid will be reduced to 0.5% for 2021 with a plan to return to 0.7% when “the fiscal position allows.” The Chancellor also confirmed the previous announcement made by the Prime Minister to invest £24 billion in defense, which is the biggest sustained increase in 30 years.

This has upset a number of Conservatives within the party’s left-leaning One Nation Caucus, but Number Ten will see this as a small political price to pay for trying to balance the books. Baroness Sugg, DFID Minister for Sustainable Development has also tendered her resignation in protest to the cut in Foreign Aid.

 

  1. The restart programme and continued investment in skills, jobs & training

The Chancellor has announced a new 3-year £2.9 billion “intense and tailored” ‘Restart’ scheme to support more than one million unemployed people to find work. The Department for Work and Pension’s budget also includes funding for measures announced in the ‘Plan for Jobs’ which focuses on job entry support measures for young people. The Kickstart Scheme will be financed with £2 billion to create new, fully subsidised jobs for young people across the country to mitigate the impact COVID-19 had on their career prospects.

 

  1. Making the UK a “scientific superpower” with R&D investment

The government wants to elevate Britain in the leagues of ‘scientific superpowers’ after Brexit. To set out its stall as a country at the forefront of innovation and technological developments, the spending review pledges almost £15 billion for Research & Development (R&D) next year. This will boost the UK’s existing research base and increase capacity and international competitiveness.

The government will also invest £260 million to continue digital infrastructure programmes, including the Shared Rural Network for 4G coverage, full network fibre and the 5G diversification and testbeds and trials programme.

 

  1. A continued effort to see an “infrastructure first” approach with Net Zero front of mind

The National Infrastructure Strategy was first expected in Sunak’s March budget but was delayed due to the pandemic. Now the document has been published alongside the Spending Review. It affirms the Government’s intentions to ‘level up’ the country, strengthen the Union and decarbonise the economy. To accelerate the delivery of infrastructure projects, it pledges:

  • A new £4bn cross-departmental Levelling Up Fund to invest in local infrastructure in England – crucially, projects that are green-lighted within this fund must have the support of their local MP.
  • £4.2 billion to support the largest city regions outside of London with intra-city transport settlements
  • £1 billion to establish carbon capture and storage in four industrial clusters
  • A new UK infrastructure bank, based in the North of England, to co-invest alongside the private sector to support levelling up and net zero
  • Reform of environmental regulations to deliver a new framework for assessing environmental impacts

 

  1. An ongoing commitment to the ‘levelling up’ agenda

Levelling up remains a key policy priority at the heart of the Conservative government. This is reflected in the highest sustained level of infrastructure funding for than more than 40 years and a new National Infrastructure Strategy.  Measures include:

  • £1.2 billion for faster broadband across the UK
  • £58 billion of investment confirmed for roads and rail
  • Multi-billion capital investment to deliver on the Government’s commitment to build 40 hospitals by 2030 and rebuild 500 schools
  • £5.2 billion for flood and coastal defense investment

The ‘levelling up’ agenda is a crucial element of the government’s re-election strategy. If the Tories want to hold on to their new-found heartlands in the North, they need to deliver. The fact that the government is planning to headquarter the new infrastructure bank in the north is symbolic of the government’s plans to hold those northern seats gained in 2019.

If you would like to discuss this topic further, then please do not hesitate to get in contact with Sabrina Huck here