Government has damaged future environmental support

29 October 2010
Government has damaged future environmental support

The Government Spending Review has severely damaged environmental initiatives, says Rebecca Hawkins, director of consultancy firm CESHI

With the Government Spending Review coming on top of existing financial pressures, hospitality businesses are under obvious strain. Under these circumstances, there can be little surprise that the importance of sustainability and responsible or ethical business decisions have slipped some way down the agenda.

Furthermore, the best efforts of tourist boards, trade and professional associations, a handful of social enterprises, some local authorities and a few business champions to keep responsible business issues high on the agenda, have no doubt been critically undermined by the events of the last week.

The Government's spectacular - and completely unexpected - announcement about the future form of the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme has damaged the core message that environmental improvements deliver cost savings and better quality.

The decision to keep the revenues from this scheme within the Treasury rather than distribute it among the top performers is, frankly, shocking. The total sum to be raised for the Treasury is estimated at £1b by 2014-2015 - compared to estimated revenues of £2.5b per annum from the new tax on bankers.

For a Government that has pledged to become the greenest ever, it sends a clear message that the environment is now a means for stealth taxation, thus breaking the unspoken pact that income raised in the name of the environment will be revenue neutral.

For those hospitality businesses that have already invested thousands of pounds in the scheme, or in achieving the Carbon Trust Standard, the core message that many of us have spent the last two decades proclaiming - that good environmental management is good for business - has been damaged.

A number of the organisations with expertise to support sustainable business decisions have been stripped away in the so-called "bonfire of the quangos" or, in the case of social enterprises, in the increasingly competitive fight for funding.

The survival of those organisations that remain - including VisitEngland's one stop shop - will no doubt be dependent upon the extent that hospitality businesses utilise them.

So the core message for those who want some free services to support business decisions that cut costs and improve quality, is use it or lose it!

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