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65% of people support a national retrofitting taskforce, with only 7% opposing the policy, new polling shows

64% of Conservative voters support a national retrofitting taskforce as well as 65% of people in the North and 65% of people in the Midlands


65% of people support a national retrofitting taskforce, with only 7% opposing the policy, according to new polling carried out by Opinium for the New Economics Foundation (NEF).

The polling shows the wide popularity across all genders, all age ranges, regions and voting intention of a large-scale investment in low-carbon heating and insulation measures, such as double glazing, to reduce the amount of heat lost from homes.

The polling shows that at least 60% of people support the policy across all regions with:

  • 65% support in the North
  • 65% support in the Midlands
  • 64% support in the London
  • 66% support in the South
  • 60% support in the Wales
  • 66% support in the Scotland
  • 60% support in the Northern Ireland

The polling also shows that the policy is universally popular across the political spectrum with:

  • 64% of Conservative voters in support
  • 78% of Labour voters in support
  • 69% of Lib Dem voters in support
  • 73% of SNP voters in support
  • 58% of Green voters in support

There is also a minimum of 60% support across all age ranges, with the highest support from those over 65, 70% of whom support the policy.

Across the UK, nearly 19m homes are in need of upgrading as they are below the energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of C, but often householders do not have the necessary financial incentives and support to undertake large-scale upgrades of their homes. Schemes such as the green deal and the green homes grant, aimed at tackling the finance problem, failed to deliver as they incurred a very high administrative cost and hassle for consumers with the programmes ending prematurely.

In October the New Economics Foundation (NEF) will launch a new campaign, the Great Homes Upgrade, to get the government to upgrade the millions of cold and leaky homes in the UK. The Great Homes Upgrade is a package of measures, to be realised in the

government’s 2021 spending review and the upcoming heat and building strategy, to put the UK on a rapid and credible pathway to retrofitting 7m homes by 2025 and almost 19m by 2030. The package includes:

  • Government investment: £11.7bn of additional public investment over the remaining course of this parliament. This investment combines an investment of £7bn in home insulation measures and £4.7bn in installing low-carbon heating solutions (primarily heat pumps).
  • A national retrofit taskforce: A taskforce to achieve, at least, an average EPC rating of C for all homes by 2030. The taskforce would deliver an area-based retrofit programme in collaboration with local authorities and coordinate the upskilling and retraining of a large workforce.
  • Fairer taxes: Introduction of tax changes in the form of a fiscally neutral, variable stamp duty land tax for more efficient homes, and equalisation of the VAT treatment for all retrofitting works at 5%, provided the whole property is brought above certain EPC thresholds.
  • Stronger regulation: Introduction of stronger building regulations, including new mandatory energy efficiency works for consequential improvements’, and support for new business models and standards to provide whole-house retrofits’ where feasible for millions of homes.
  • Affordable finance to families: Domestic state-owned financial institutions such as the UK Infrastructure Bank (UKIB) and the British Business Bank (BBB) offering cheap finance to families and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for upgrading their homes and buildings.

The Great Homes Upgrade campaign will be collaborating with local authorities, many of whom have already begun work on retrofitting their own housing stock, to argue for a national retrofitting scheme which would help councils to stimulate their local economies as part of a post-Covid recovery, and unlock private investment and business support further down the line as costs of this work go down.

Chaitanya Kumar, head of environment and green transition at the New Economics Foundation, said:
If we are to meet our climate targets and avoid devastating climate breakdown, we will need to retrofit at least 19m homes by 2030. Currently our damp and leaky housing stock is one of the largest sources of carbon emissions in the UK, our home energy use alone being around 20% of total UK carbon emissions. We have to get moving on this work, but currently even if we wanted to we wouldn’t have the skills, supply chains or capacity to get started.

We need a long-term investment programme on energy efficiency and low-carbon heat, which could create thousands of jobs, while tackling fuel poverty and preventing thousands of premature deaths due to cold and damp homes. Our Great Homes Upgrade package of measures can set the UK on a trajectory for mitigating the climate crisis, creating warm homes, saving on energy bills, establishing strength in key growing low-carbon industries and creating hundreds and thousands of green jobs across the length and breadth of the country.”

Dan Firth, director of campaigns and engagement at the New Economics Foundation said:
In the UK, our homes are some of the draughtiest and leakiest in Europe, and they rely on dirty fossil fuels like gas to heat them. We all deserve to come home to warm, safe homes and yet nearly 19m homes in the UK currently need to be upgraded. Living in a cold, damp home is stressful, expensive and can lead to health problems.

What we need to do to keep our homes warm and stop them homes from wasting energy is simple: insulate them and replace polluting gas boilers with climate-friendly heating.

But these things can be very expensive and with skyrocketing energy bills, it’s up to the government to support families in cutting their energy consumption through upgrading their homes, making them warmer, safer and less reliant on gas.”

That’s why at the New Economics Foundation we’re calling for a Great Homes Upgrade. If the government makes future-proofing our homes part of its mission and commits to spending £11.7bn on upgrading our leaky, polluting homes over the remaining course of this parliament, we could be well on our way to upgrading 7m homes by 2025.”

Contact
Becky Malone, becky.​malone@​neweconomics.​org, 07925950654

Notes to editors

The New Economics Foundation is a charitable think tank. We are wholly independent of political parties and committed to being transparent about how we are funded.

Opinium carried out a nationally representative survey of 2,001 UK adults between 22nd-23rd September 2021.

The Great Homes Upgrade is a campaign for a large-scale, UK-wide programme of upgrading our leaky, inefficient homes. It would be funded by the UK government, but managed mainly through local authorities and other local organisations. This would make sure that everyone can make sure their home is well-insulated and heated by clean, green energy — regardless of whether we rent a flat or own a castle.

We want the government to commit to bring every home in the UK up to a good standard by 2030 — that means upgrading 7m homes by 2025 and 19m by 2030. We’re calling for the government’s first step to be upgrading millions of social homes over the next decade. This should be followed by support for people who own their own homes and for homes that are privately rented. https://​greath​ome​sup​grade​.org/

Further information on the package of measures to upgrade 19m homes by 2030 can a found in Great Homes Upgrade (2021). Available at https://​newe​co​nom​ics​.org/​2​0​2​1​/​0​9​/​g​r​e​a​t​-​h​o​m​e​s​-​u​p​grade

If you back a recovery plan based around great public services, protecting the planet and reducing inequality, please support NEF to build back better.


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