IWFM chief executive Linda Hausmanis has criticised the Budget’s lack of specifics on support for the built environment to reach net zero – but welcomed announcements on pay and the tackling of skills gaps.
Expressing disappointment about the Chancellor’s lack of “meaningful detail” on how the Government is to support the built environment sector in achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, she said that workplace and facilities managers – “uniquely placed to play a leading role in delivering national net zero targets - are seeing their critical work is being hampered by “a fog of insufficient detail and support”.
The Net Zero Strategy and Heat and Buildings Strategy, published last week, are “lacking in the clarity needed to help our profession to achieve the necessary outcomes”.
Citing the “business rates improvement relief’ from 2023 and investment relief to encourage businesses to adopt green technologies like solar panels, Hausmanis said “there doesn’t appear to be a joined-up approach - the former doesn’t appear to ask for improvements to be ‘green’”.
Pay & Skills
Hausmanis did however welcome progress elsewhere in the Budget to improve pay and tackle skills gaps through initiatives including the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, the upscaling Skills Bootcamps, and the reconfirming of an upgrade to the FE college estate.
Nevertheless, she expressed concern that some of the announcements do not go far enough.
“On pay in particular we welcome the end of the public sector pay freeze and the increase to the National Living Wage which will give lower-paid workers in our sector a much-deserved boost, especially those in cleaning, catering and security who have been on the front-line throughout the pandemic. We’re proud to have contributed to the National Living Wage rise by providing evidence to the Low Pay Commission.
“Money for skills and training is always good news, and I would encourage every employer to take advantage of the apprenticeship funding commitment; although with the Government only applying the “immigration lever” for the new Scale-Up Visa and those deemed ”highly skilled individuals”, more will be needed to bridge the skills gap that has widened considerably since Brexit.
Preparing a post-pandemic workforce
“Like many others", continued Hausmanis, "our profession increasingly needs people with the technical skills for today and tomorrow, from AI to decarbonisation. But solving this skills crisis and increasing productivity won’t happen overnight; it will need the combined efforts of government, business and professional and training bodies.
“While some progress has already been made towards flexible apprenticeship training models, transitioning to a post-pandemic economy will require even greater flexibility so that all employers could use the levy to upskill their people through training that is more attuned to their needs.
“We will continue to call for this change in policy – towards a Skills Levy - which we believe would give a massive boost to skills development and productivity across the economy.”