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Green Investment Bank gets £2bn boost in Budget

The Green Investment Bank, a central plank of the Government’s green growth strategy, will receive an extra £2 billion from the Treasury, but it will not be able to borrow and raise capital for another four years, the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced.

Unveiling his Budget for “growth” and “fairness”, Osborne confirmed the Green Investment Bank will effectively act as a fund until the Government can meet its debt targets. The £2 billion of extra funding pledged today comes on top of £1 billion already committed to the bank by the Government and will be paid for through public asset sales.

Describing the move as a “bold step” in the Coalition’s plans to be the “greenest government ever”, Osborne said the bank would open in 2012, a year earlier than previously planned, and would leverage £15 billion worth of private sector investment for green projects over this Parliament. It will be given powers to borrow from 2015-16.

“From 2015-16, and subject to our overall debt target being met, we will allow the Green Investment Bank to borrow and invest in a better future,” said Osborne.

Carbon price floor
In what is seen as another key move to accelerate the UK’s move to a greener economy, Osborne announced more details about the Government’s carbon price floor aimed at encouraging more investment in low carbon energy. The Chancellor said the floor price for carbon, levied on the power sector, would be set at £16 per tonne of carbon dioxide in 2013 and move to a target of £30 per tonne by 2020.

“Investment in green energy will never be certain unless we bring some stability to the price of carbon,” he said. “We become the first country in the world to introduce a carbon price floor for the power sector.”

Green Deal – Budget Update 23 March 2011.
There was mention of the Green Deal, the Government’s flagship energy efficiency policy for homes and small businesses due to come into effect next year. However, despite industry calls for more clarity and incentives around it, Osborne gave little more away, saying only that “we will act to incentivise and encourage its take up”.

Other measures
As part of his package of green measures, Osborne also said he would extend the Climate Change Agreements to 2023, and increase the Climate Change Levy discount on electricity for those who sign up from 65 per cent to 80 per cent from April 2013.

Enterprise Investment Scheme
Calling small businesses the “innocent victims” of the credit crunch, Osborne outlined plans to benefit small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) through the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), which can assist the start up of green businesses.

From April this year, income tax relief under the scheme will increase from 20 per cent to 30 per cent, while from next year the amount people can invest through the EIS will double, raising the limit by 400 per cent.

Osborne also announced he would be doubling the size of the Entrepreneurs Relief to £10 billion from April 6.