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UK Government’s levelling up agenda risks ‘postcode lottery’, warns ECA

The Electrical Contractors Association has warned that the UK Government’s decision to make changes to the levelling up fund could potentially risk a ‘postcode lottery’. 

During yesterday’s Budget announcement, Jeremy Hunt noted “historic underinvestment in our nations and regions.” He promised to address this inequality by directing levelling up funding towards particular areas of the UK, with a focus on upgrading infrastructure. 

While the ECA has been quick to welcome the new funds directed for infrastructure projects in these regions, which includes areas such as Surrey and Cambridgeshire, it has also warned of a potential ‘postcode lottery’. 

Jane Dawson, Head of Public Relations and Public Affairs for the ECA, commented, “While we welcome funds directed for infrastructure projects in the regions under the levelling up agenda, we are concerned this will benefit Members in some regions, while others will lose out. 

“This could create a postcode lottery of demand for electrical contractors, which does not necessarily reflect the workforce available.”

In a recent episode of the Powered On Podcast, the ECA’s Andrew Eldred touched on this geographic disparity when it came to the ongoing skills crisis. He noted how “there is a huge difference in the number of electricians living in one area or another,” with Dorset having the highest number of electricians per capita, despite not necessarily having the highest demand for work. 

Meanwhile, Surrey, which was of particular focus for the UK Government as it announced plans to allow further devolution in the area, has struggled to fill vacancies in the electrical sector. 

ECA’s Budget 2024 reaction

While the ECA has warned of a potential postcode lottery regarding levelling up funding, it was positive in other areas announced by the Chancellor. Dawson commented, “We welcome the boost in investment of £120M for the Green Accelerator fund to support the green energy supply chain, along with the promise of faster connections to the grid.

“Three quarters of electrical contractors are SMEs, therefore we welcome the raising of the threshold for payment of VAT to a turnover of £90k, although with cost of living increases we had hoped the threshold would have been lifted higher.

“ECA Member firms with fleets of vehicles will also be relieved to hear the duty on fuel has been frozen for a further year.

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