Coming to the boil

To act with common sense according to the moment, is the best wisdom I know

At the risk of repeating myself from last week, it looks as though the idea of the scrappage scheme has caught the imagination.

PTS md Alan Ball is supporting it, Graham’s Steve Millward mooted the idea some time ago as did NBG executive chairman Allan Durning in a comment on this very website.

Now the British Retail Consortium has weighed in, writing to that nice Mr Darling to point out that if the government really is serious about meeting their carbon emission reduction targets, they should encourage people to buy the most energy-efficient household products that they can.

And by encouraging, they mean in monetary terms. I’ve written to the BRC, bringing their attention to Mick Williams’ Boiler Scrappage Petition and asking them to support it and to include boilers in their campaign.

As well as a scrappage-scheme, the BRC are proposing a reduction in VAT on the most energy-efficient products; their figures suggest that the cost of such a move would be equal to two weeks’ of the 2.5% reduction in the rate brought in last year. Yup, bring it on. But include boilers in that, please! After all, a boiler is, usually, a much more expensive purchase than a washing machine, any VAT reduction could only help to push the idea of buying a new one.

To quote Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium Director General: “The Government’s working against its own objectives when it sets targets for reducing carbon emissions while charging full VAT on the efficient products that will move us towards those targets. Homes are responsible for 27% of the nation’s emissions. Helping householders improve their performance has to be the next step.”

The trouble is, and this is always the problem, boilers are always a distress purchase: washing machines, dishwashers and other white goods tend to be less so. We don’t usually think about what the boiler does until it stops doing it and then getting it going again takes priority over thoughts of efficiency or carbon emissions.

The general public is more likely to sign a petition for Jeremy Clarkson to be Prime Minister (more than 40,000 signatures) than they are one for any kind of building product sales boost. So it’s up to the industry to get this sorted.

As I said in my last blog, go on sign it. You know it makes sense.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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