AHEAD OF the upcoming Spring Statement from the UK Government, a broad coalition of energy, fuel poverty and environmental organisations and academics are calling on the Chancellor to drastically scale up government investment in home insulation and heat pumps.
In a letter signed by National Energy Action, Age UK, Greenpeace UK and 20 other campaign groups sent to Jeremy Hunt, the coalition is calling for him to announce upfront investment of £5.3 billion for home insulation and £3.37 billion for heat pump installations in his Spring Statement on 15 March.
In order to provide reassurance to the industry, they are also asking for a further £6 billion a year commitment for the next decade. These investments should target poorer households first, in some cases with fully funded grants to enable people to upgrade their homes.
Almost a quarter of the UK’s population – around 7 million households – are currently experiencing preventable fuel poverty. The letter highlights that the investment will greatly reduce these numbers by creating warmer homes, lower bills and better living conditions.
The groups also state that such a significant investment in green homes makes ‘economic sense’ at a time of high inflation, low productivity growth and energy price volatility.
High gas prices have been a significant driver of inflation in the UK. By swapping out gas boilers for heat pumps, and insulating more homes so they use less energy, the UK will be less reliant on gas and its price volatility. This will drive down inflation and increase energy security.
Prioritising investment in heat pump and retrofit insulation would also create jobs and economic growth right across the country. Tens of thousands of new jobs would be required in the heat pump, insulation and construction industries, but money saved by households on energy bills will also be spent broadly across the economy. This would support jobs and create growth for businesses in other sectors too.
Housing is directly responsible for around 14 per cent of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions, primarily due to the use of gas in homes. Ending the use of gas for heating is essential for tackling the climate crisis and the UK government’s legal duty to deliver net zero.
Greenpeace UK’s executive director, Areeba Hamid, who is a signatory to the letter, said: “This country is on its knees. High inflation, a shrinking economy and an energy crisis that has forced a quarter of all households into fuel poverty. Insulation and heat pumps could be the silver bullet the government so desperately needs right now, but only if the Chancellor delivers the investment required to get our homes off gas for good.
“This isn’t just about insulating homes, but by doing so, the government will also insulate the whole country against energy price shocks that have rocked the economy like the one we’re experiencing now. If Jeremy Hunt is serious about getting inflation under control and growing the economy, while tackling the climate crisis and reducing fuel poverty, green homes are the only way to go.”
* Read the letter to Jeremy Hunt here.
* Source: Greenpeace UK