New Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has delivered his first emergency Budget, as well as a new Growth Plan.
Shockingly, there is no mention of energy efficiency in this Fiscal Statement. This is a triple miss by the chancellor – a missed opportunity to reduce our dependency on expensive gas, to create hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country, and to cut our carbon emissions. It is a shame that the chancellor has not targeted stamp duty reductions – to those who make their homes more energy efficient.
Without any new support for the energy efficient retrofit of buildings, our dependence on expensive gas will continue. The government will face an open-ended commitment to support energy suppliers, with the bill footed by tax payers. The UK has the leakiest buildings in Western Europe and a retrofit revolution will slash carbon emissions, make energy cheaper, and provide an economic boost, with hundreds of thousands of new jobs across the country
What is needed is for government to:
- Confirm the £9.2 billion committed to retrofit and low carbon heat in the 2019 Conservative manifesto, and invest an additional £0.5 billion for insulation measures by 2024 through existing schemes such as ECO and Sustainable Warmth with an initial focus on loft and cavity wall insulation which are easier to install
- Introduce as soon as possible proposed regulations on the energy performance of private rented homes, so these homes are rated EPC C by 2028.
Ashden is calling for a national retrofit strategy which:
- Introduces incentives and finance for retrofit of non-fuel poor homes, including a fiscally neutral variable stamp duty Land Tax for more efficient homes. Government should also create a revolving loan fund and/or low-cost finance for home energy retrofitting working with retail banks and the UK Infrastructure Bank
- Subsidises whole house retrofit plans for home-owners
- Runs a nationwide home retrofit awareness campaign with resources for promotion by local government
- Publishes a national skills plan for retrofit, including a national campaign to recruit new trainees and upskill existing builders and heating engineers
- Integrates skills development into government-funded retrofit schemes
- Reforms apprenticeships so that construction apprenticeships cover retrofit skills, and not just new build, and are more flexible so that SMEs can access
- Restores the Adult Education Budget to 2010 to support re-training to retrofit roles
- Supports the college sector to upskill existing instructors, build training rigs,and set up a national retrofit centre of expertise, working in partnership with construction employers