POLLING FOR THE NEW ECONOMICS FOUNDATION shows widespread support across all genders, age ranges, regions and voting intention for a large-scale investment in low-carbon heating and insulation measures, such as double glazing, to reduce the amount of heat lost from homes across the UK.

The polling, carried out by Opinium, finds 65 per cent of people supporting a national retrofitting taskforce, with only seven per cent opposing the policy.

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

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

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

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

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

Across the UK, nearly 19 million 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.

This month 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 7million homes by 2025 and almost 19m by 2030. The package includes:

  • UK Government investment: £11.7 billion of additional public investment over the remaining course of this parliament. This investment combines an investment of £7 billion in home insulation measures and £4.7 billion 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 five per cent, 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 19 million 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 per cent 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 19 million 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 £11.7 billion on upgrading our leaky, polluting homes over the remaining course of this parliament, we could be well on our way to upgrading 7 million homes by 2025.”

* More information on the Great Homes Upgrade here.

* Source: New Economics Foundation