Environmental issues are to be given a priority. With oil prices at $41 a barrel and the 2005 G8 Presidency set to focus on climate change Britain needs to find more energy efficient technologies. The Secretary of State for the Environment is to review policies and innovations that could deliver more efficient energy use.
The first step to improving energy efficiency is the announcement of a £20m development fund that will be managed by the Carbon Trust. Mr Brown said that this fund would be charged with accelerating “innovation in energy efficient technologies”.
Car duty freeze
Due to high oil prices the Government proposed to “match the freeze in car vehicle license duty with a continuation of the freeze on the main road fuel duties.” However, a 20 pence per litre lower duty differential will be set for bioethanol and, because of fraud relating to the lower rate of duty for rebated oils, there will be an increase in on this duty of 1 pence per litre.
The long-term unemployed are to be offered free work-focussed training. Pilots will be set up to give long-term claimants on income support, Jobseeker’s Allowance and incapacity benefit the chance to take up full-time training to help get them back to work.
The developing world was touched upon by Gordon Brown in anticipation of the Africa Commission reporting next year and the G8 2005 Presidency focusing on debt relief and development. The Chancellor stated that he had written to G7 Finance Ministers outlining Britain’s priorities for 2005. These included:
Britain is the second largest donor in the struggle against HIV/AIDS and this is set to continue with increased funding for research into the disease. New efforts will also be made to make AIDS and malaria drugs more affordable.