Brown’s budget ‘misses green opportunity’

Despite being widely touted as a ‘green Budget’ the chancellor has been accused of missing an opportunity to stress his green credentials.

With the Conservative party increasingly stressing its green credentials, Gordon Brown was under pressure to outline his own environmental vision as he outlined his 11th, and most likely, final budget as chancellor.

Outlining a number of measures, Gordon Brown claimed Budget 2007 would result in 16 million tonnes of carbon reductions.

However, his critics accused him of lacking in any substantive policies, focusing more on households than business.

The Liberal Democrats dismissed Budget 2007 as a Budget of missed opportunities and attacked Mr Brown’s green credentials.

Sir Menzies Campbell said: “He had the chance to create a greener Britain by taxing pollution – but he shunned it.

“His proposals on vehicle excise duty fall far short of what is required. As his last Budget this should have been a real green budget, with a vision and a commitment to taking the steps needed to tackle climate change.”

Conservative leader David Cameron claimed Mr Brown has only gone into the Budget touting his green credentials as he had “failed on everything else”.

Greenpeace concluded Budget 2007 was a “faint hearted affair overall”, criticising the lack of policy on aviation as the “elephant at the dispatch box”.

In a headline grabbing policy, Mr Brown confirmed 4×4 drivers will be hit by £400 car tax. Vehicle excise duty on the most polluting vehicles will increase to £300, rising by another £100 next year. At the least polluting end of the scale, the bottom band will be cut from £50 to £35.

“Our objective for Britain is the lowest carbon cars using the least polluting fuels,” Mr Brown said.

Fuel duty is set to rise by two pence, although motorists will enjoy a reprieve until October, followed by a further 1.8 pence.

Notably absent from Budget 2007 was a policy on aviation, the chancellor having robustly rejected Conservative proposals for VAT on passenger airline tickets.

With business ignored, Budget 2007 focused on encouraging households to go green. The chancellor is in talks with banks and building societies to create mortgages for environmentally friendly home improvements.

Households will be encouraged to generate their own power, with an income tax exemption offered on any surplus power sold back to the grid. Pensioners will also be offered grants worth £300 to £4,000 to insulate their homes.

Mr Brown also confirmed he is lobbying the European Union in order to introduce a five per cent VAT rate for environmentally friendly consumer goods. To deter waste, landfill tax will rise £8 each year to 2011.

Stamp duty on carbon neutral homes has been dropped for homes worth less than £500,000 and there will be a 50 per cent increase in funding for the low carbon building fund.