Today Nick Clegg announced plans for new spending on "green infrastructure". The party argues that they have found £3 billion in savings that can pay for investments in renewable energy, increasing the energy efficiency of the housing stock and transport projects of some kind.
Similar plans have been announced by the Conservatives and Labour. Existing policy is already driving a huge amount of money into home efficiency projects so don't be fooled by that red herring, this money is mostly intended to help find the around £200 billion in investment that is needed in the energy sector to meet climate change targets. Private investors are worried that the "affordability crisis" Citigroup Investment Research expect as bills rise will lead to subsidies being withdrawn so they are wary of putting their cash in. Taxpayers are being asked to step in yet again.
In today's Financial Times, the Lex Column reports that:
"Investors, for their part, appear sceptical. Even though new orders for European solar equipment have increased four-fold in the past 12 months, company valuations as a multiple of earnings have fallen one-fifth."
Ordinary families are already set to be stung for billions as energy bills double to pay for prohibitively expensive renewable energy. So the idea that taxpayers' money is going to be used to finance the
investments in white elephant wind farms as well is utterly unfair.
The "green jobs" are a complete mirage, the idea that if you buy enough copies of Microsoft Office, that will make you Bill Gates. You don't create jobs by becoming a bigger customer but by becoming a more competitive supplier. If politicians want to increase employment they should cut spending, taxes and regulation and get out of the way of business.
The Liberal Democrats would be better off using £3 billion in savings to deal with the crippling national debt or giving it back to taxpayers.