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Baker Homes Blog

Getting the job done: banishing leaky homes by 2035

Posted by John Stapleton on 31-Oct-2022 24:02:00

This week saw the publication of Building the Future: The economic and fiscal impacts of making homes energy efficient, setting out a roadmap to band ‘C’ – generally accepted as a realistic target for the vast majority of homes in the UK – and the ‘whys and wherefores’ of a large scale programme of retrofit. The coalition behind the Energy Bill Revolution, including Baker Homes and SHIFT members, have succeeded in moving the debate forward: Labour, for example is signed up to energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority.

There are two key elements to the 20 year plan. Half the cash from government would pay for a low-income programme, targeting areas likely to contain fuel-poor (or near fuel-poor) households. The other half would go towards an ‘able-to-pay’ scheme, offering interest-free loans for all other homes.

The UK has the leakiest homes in western Europe. What’s the bill to HM taxpayer to make them warm? A cool £50 billion. Sounds like a lot – and it is. But the report includes an impressive array of stats to back up its central claim that – as public investments goes – energy efficiency is one of the best. It can foster a supply chain upon which thousands of contractors and other small businesses depend and thrive, employing apprentices and creating work in some of the areas that need it most. The cost-benefit ratio places the programme as high value for money. When set against a planned £100 billion for infrastructure (including £25billion on roads) over just five years, £50 billion over twenty begins to sound like a bargain. To say nothing of the health benefits. And did someone mention the environment?

Crucially, the report advocates a ‘street-by-street’ approach, with local authorities and community groups in the driving seat. This not only enables those best-placed to make strategic decisions to do so, it ensures that the economies of scale inherent to area-based works can be easily realised. It just makes sense.

Will it be enough? A key attraction of the approach is that it is ‘tenure-blind’: social tenants, private renters and homeowners are all covered off in the same package. It eschews the defeatist ‘as far as is practicable’ language favoured by the latest fuel poverty strategy, still less the watery caveats contained in the proposed private rented sector regulations on energy efficiency.

But even interest-free loans may not be sufficient to sweeten the deal for many. Works can be disruptive, and incentives do not work for everyone. So we need to be honest and ‘show a bit of stick'. However, regulation in this instance – mandating that all homes, regardless of tenure, should be band ‘C’ by 2035 – need not mean a sea of red tape. It will merely ensure that, when presented with the chance to be part of a street-by-street scheme at a lower cost now, or making improvements at a higher cost later, it will be a no-brainer. If we are serious about getting this job done, and in the most efficient way, we need to deploy both carrot and stick. Despite some recent cracks, cross-party consensus remains intact for the UK’s 2050 ends: an 80 per cent reduction in carbon. Isn’t it time to repeat the trick for one of the most important means that would get us there?

 Baker Homes and partners host a leading national conference on new builds "Building to low carbon cost-effectively". This one-day conference takes place on 22nd October in London and 4th November in Manchester. For more information and to register, click the button below.

Baker Homes, SHIFT, New build, building to low carbon, housing standards

Topics: Registered Social Landlords, Retrofit, Fuel poverty, Energy

On 10th June, we welcome you to our national conference 'Making the business case for retrofit' Hear from registered landlords on their success, new financing options for major works and the new government's prospects. For more information and to register click here.

Baker Homes, Making the business case for retrofit, social landlords, financing retrofit, retrofit policy


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