The £23bn Project to Green up More Than Two Million Homes in England

26 May 2022 by Greg Walker
blog author

A coalition of housing sector organisations has called on the Government to raise energy efficiency standards for more than two million homes across England.

Building Back Britain Commission wants the Government to commit to spending £23bn on a ‘retrofit revolution’ as the cost of living crisis deepens.

The Commission has said the current energy efficiency measures are not affordable for as many as a 2.3million households in England, with the financial implication of going green creating a barrier for those living in homes under the ‘critical price threshold’ of £162,000.

For such homes, making any energy efficiency improvements such as installing solar panels, heat pumps or cavity wall insulation would be financially unviable due to the cost of the work exceeding the potential house price gain.

The Commission has released the ambitious plan that calls for the decarbonisation of the problem homes over the next decade, which it admits is an ‘enormous challenge’, but believes taking such action would kickstart a ‘retrofit revolution’ and reduce the energy bills for some of the poorest households.

The Commission is made up of some of the highest profile organisations in the housing sector including the chief executives of Barratt Developments, Legal & General, Mace, Thakeham, NHBC and Riverside Group.

The research, conducted by two former Government economists, revealed that 58 per cent of homes are below an EPC rating C, in the average English local authority, and the cost of getting all homes up to standard will cost at least £200bn. 

The Commission urges the Government to put funding from the existing £9.2bn for energy efficiency measures (set out in the Conservative Party’s 2019 election manifesto) towards the retrofit of these homes over the next decade to kick start the development of a Great British supply chain in retrofit and energy efficiency technology and services.

The new build sector will play a key role in achieving a zero-carbon economy for the UK, as around one in five of the homes that will exist in 2050 are yet to be built.

As a result, the report urges the Government to fully support developers as they identify and implement net zero by 2030 solutions. The Commission recommends that the Treasury considers using research and development tax credits to incentivise a greater take up of modern construction technologies while the Government should work with lenders to improve green mortgages. Homes England should collaborate with local authorities to identify and replace those older homes which are beyond realistic repair to help reach net zero, the report recommends.

Terrie Alafat CBE, Chair, The Riverside Group and Chair of the Building Back Britain Commission, said: “Government needs to get serious about tackling the cost of living crisis with radical action to improve the energy efficiency of millions of our homes.

“That’s why the Building Back Britain Commission is calling on Government to commit to funding a retrofit revolution, alongside further action to ensure the highest possible standards in our future homes. Without this, Government will always be fighting a losing battle on both net zero and energy bills. But by working with the industry and following the steps that we suggest, it could yet have a win-win.

“In the long-term, taking decisive action now to make our homes more energy efficient will enable the UK to make much-needed strides forwards on the path towards net zero. In the short-term, it will also mean lower fuel bills for millions of people who are suffering as a result of the energy crisis and urgently need help with the cost of living.”

David Thomas, CEO, Barratt Developments, said: “Many developers have made significant steps forward on decarbonisation, with new homes achieving high standards of energy efficiency, but further action is needed if we are to achieve the transition to zero carbon emissions by 2030.

“Our report sets out how further progress can be made, with positive recommendations on how to remove constraints, and invest in the right skills and technology, while giving industry and consumers the confidence needed to build zero-carbon homes at the scale and pace required.”

Steve Wood, CEO, National House Building Council, said: “Given the vast scale of the net zero challenge in the housing sector, clear action is needed. Our report sets out the roadmap to decarbonise millions of homes. Crucially, we must keep on driving progress towards net zero in new build homes at the same time as radically accelerating the decarbonisation of our existing stock.”

Greg Walker, Senior Consultant – Sustainable Business at Acre, said: “At a time where so many are feeling the effects of the increase in the cost of living, the Building Back Britain Commission consisting of some of the UK’s leading developers is calling on the Government to support the most in need from the increasing energy prices. In the long term, the ‘retrofit revolution’ will also help prepare the UK by taking a small but significant step in working towards net zero.”

Greg is a Senior Consultant specialising in construction and infrastructure. He works with both clients searching for candidates as well as engaging with professionals searching for their next move. Greg has recruited across several sectors, having developed and led an environment and sustainability division for another recruitment organisation previously.

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