The government’s announcement to sell off a large chunk of the Green Investment Bank (GIB) to the private sector is ‘a slap in the face’ for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) seeking much needed finance for ‘green’ manufacturing initiatives.
Unite, the country’s largest union, was commenting as business secretary Sajid Javid announced today (Thursday 25 June) plans to bring private capital into the Edinburgh-based bank, which was launched in 2012, as the first such bank in the world.
Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Tony Burke said: “The Green Investment Bank was set up to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to obtain the finance needed to provide assistance in developing ‘green’ manufacturing. SMEs produce 80 per cent of the manufacturing output in the UK.
“Now the rug has been pulled from under the SMEs and it is back to square one with these businesses having to rely on borrowing from the tight-fisted mainstream banks. It is a slap in the face for these entrepreneurs.
“The government has no enthusiasm to invest in manufacturing, ‘green’ or otherwise. This is another blow to the calls from Unite, amongst others, for a coherent manufacturing strategy for the next decade.
“It also poses serious questions about the government’s commitment to a low carbon economy, given that only last week ministers said they were ending the subsidies for onshore wind farms from April next year.
“Unite called for a Green Investment Bank, and while it has played an important role in supporting a greener economy, the GIB that was created is constrained. The government should be giving it borrowing powers rather than selling its share.”
The GIB has invested £2 billion of public money since 2012 in 50 green infrastructure projects and seven funds in 240 locations around the UK.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2061 or 07768 693940.
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.