Founders of startup business welcome Spring Budget but say it’s a missed opportunity

The founders of a Liverpool-based startup company have welcomed aspects of the government’s Spring Budget announced today but say it does not go far enough to help homeowners adopt green energy technology for the home.
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Heatio, founded by Simon Roberts and Thomas Farquhar, is driving the green energy technology agenda through a data-driven approach to home energy usage. They’ve developed an app called Heatio Flexx, a Home Energy platform & Virtual Power Plant that optimises and manages renewable technologies in people’s homes, benefitting consumers and the national grid.

Commenting on the Chancellor’s announcement of the extension to the UK’s windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas companies until 2029, Heatio co-founder Simon Roberts said: “Continuing the windfall tax on the huge profits energy companies have made is good news, however, we must make sure this short-term additional revenue is put to the best use in terms of improving our energy security so we are not impacted by future price spikes. We urgently need to speed up our transition to renewable energy and get people to decarbonise."

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In his statement, the Chancellor also announced the Prepayment Meter premium would be abolished on a permanent basis, following the end of the Energy Price Guarantee this month. Simon added: “It has been shocking that pre-paid meters cost more per unit than billed accounts - hitting the most vulnerable in our society and leaving them with the decision to heat or eat. Everyone should be able to heat their homes. We believe a low carbon future, with the removal of capital costs of installing energy-efficient tech in the homes such as heat pumps, will eventually allow this and improve living standards for millions of UK people.”

Founders of Heatio, Thomas Farquhar and Simon RobertsFounders of Heatio, Thomas Farquhar and Simon Roberts
Founders of Heatio, Thomas Farquhar and Simon Roberts

However, there were no new proposals on helping the country to move to Net Zero.

Heatio co-founder Thomas Farquhar says: “The Chancellor has missed an easy opportunity to help the country reach net zero. Net Zero should be treated as a National Security issue that cuts through politics. We need long-term thinking that will encourage consumers to make the switch from inefficient fossil fuelled gas boilers and onto low carbon electricity technologies like heat pumps, that will ultimately bring down their energy bills while prices are lower than they have been. But we didn’t get that. The UK fits 1.7 million fossil fuel boilers every year but only 1 per cent of households have an energy efficient heat pump.

“As a nation we are addicted to gas and frustratingly we are being left behind the rest of Europe in the transition to cheaper, more secure and cleaner energy in homes and instead we are buying the gas they don’t want or need.”

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As a startup based in the north west, both Simon and Thomas were keen to see if the government were to announce any policies which would encourage business investment.

Thomas commented: “Earlier this year, the government had proposed changes to the definition of a High Net Worth investor, or Angel Investor, raising the income threshold to qualify from £100k to £170k. This would have crippled investment for start-ups seeking early-stage investment, such as companies like ours, but in particular, female and underrepresented angel investors and founders would have been disproportionately affected.

“It is welcome news that the Chancellor has seen sense, having received a backlash from both start-ups and investors. This move will provide a boost to many UK entrepreneurs.

“As a clean-tech start-up firm, we recognise the critical role that new businesses play in advancing our nation towards its net-zero goals. Removing obstacles entrepreneurs encounter is paramount if we are to reform the energy infrastructure and maximise renewable energy sources in the UK.”

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