Amid the government’s recent vow to end austerity and boost public spending by almost £14bn, Bureau Veritas has welcomed the move, stating the extra funding will be vital to making tangible progress on sustainability.
In his first budgetary announcement as Chancellor last week, Sajid Javid’s Spending Review pledged to increase investment in the environment, education, transport and health1. This includes a £7.1bn cash boost for schools and a £6.2bn increase to NHS spending, as well as £200m to transform UK buses to low-emission vehicles.
What’s more, £422m will be made available to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to help tackle climate change and meet the government’s net-zero emission targets, with £30m set aside to improve air quality2.
Commenting on the issue, Ken Smith, Country Chief at Bureau Veritas UK, said:
“Amid an incredibly turbulent political and economic climate, there has been concern been that Britain’s green agenda has lost momentum in recent years. However, this vast spending pot along with the government’s pledge to become the first nation to achieve net zero by 2050 is a clear indication of its commitment to continue leading the charge on tackling climate change.
“As a business currently working with local authorities tackle air pollution we are particularly delighted at the extra funding for low-emission buses which we believe will go a long way in making headway on the issue.”
“It is important to remember, however, that realising a truly low carbon economy requires much more than a big cash injection – it also relies on a more joined-up approach between national agencies, local councils as well as private businesses.
“In terms of the reducing our reliance on cars and improving air quality, for example, Parliament may dictate national policy but the onus is on local authorities to roll it out and ensure a coherent approach. In turn, there is still a big job to do within the transport sector in helping make public transport easier for the masses while for businesses it’s about actively encouraging employees to use it through company schemes and incentives.
Meanwhile, in terms of the welcome cash boost for schools, Bureau Veritas is also advising that a proportion should be used on asbestos management and electrical safety measures as latest figures show over 80% of schools across the UK have asbestos present in their buildings, putting over seven million children at risk of exposure3.
Ken adds: “During the age of austerity, understandably many schools have struggled to carry out the required remedial works on asbestos. However, in light of the extra money now available and with an obligation to ensure that premises are safe for staff, pupils and visitors, the need for schools to prioritise asbestos and electrical safety cannot be overstated. Ensuring robust checks and procedures are in place for effective management will be critical to controlling and eradicate the serious risk posed by asbestos exposure and poor electrics.”
Bureau Veritas offers a comprehensive range of services to help businesses and organisations, including schools, government departments and local authorities implement and manage strategies on sustainability, air quality, maintaining asbestos control and electrical safety compliance.