‘Cost neutral’ plan for UK social housing energy efficiency upgrades

As yet another organisation threatens Downing Street with a lawsuit over environmental failings, politicians are told to listen and save unnecessary costs. 

The rate at which green legal challenges are landing on the UK Government’s doorstep is unarguably accelerating, and active cases are stacking up. Now one of the most influential voices in local government has a clear message – adopt our costed and clearly defined action plan or face yet more damages and longwinded court battles. 

low angle photography of building

UK100’s End the wait. Insulate report outlines Downing Street can make a marked difference to the environmental standards of British social housing, bringing energy bills down by around £1,500 for some of the most vulnerable. In turn, this would have a marked impact on pressure on the National Grid, resulting in a reduction in emissions and overall air pollution levels. 

According to the organisation, the plan is ‘oven-ready and cost-neutral’. The paper was unveiled in the wake of Greenpeace threatening to launch legal action of the failure of policymakers to make housing stock more energy efficient. 

Brits are amidst a bleak winter. Millions are facing fuel poverty. And they are understandably terrified about what the future holds when prices rise again in April,’ said Jason Executive, UK100’s Interim Chief Executive. In that context, it is easy to understand the rationale for the Greenpeace lawsuit. But the Government can avoid a costly legal battle and raise hundreds of thousands of families out of fuel poverty by urgently adopting UK100’s oven-ready plan for an energy efficiency drive to alleviate pressure on the most vulnerable – and it won’t cost the earth.’

Essentially, the new proposal adapts the current Government legislation which requires local authorities to compete for funding to upgrade properties. UK100 suggests the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero removes this element of the funding process, and revenue is instead distributed by need. This redesigned scheme would run alongside the new UK Infrastructure Bank, maximising private investment and green finance options. 

More than 550,000 social housing properties could be modernised by 2028, creating 40,000 jobs and offering tenants significant savings. Beyond this point, £16b in long-term investment would then mean every social housing unit in the country reaches the UK’s Net Zero standard, supporting 80,000 jobs in the process. Overall, this route would not prove any more expensive than the current pledge for spend to improve insulation in social housing. Currently, UK homes are rated among Europe’s least energy efficient, with heating accounting for 14% of national emissions this winter. 

‘Our cost-neutral plan can help millions avoid another winter like this one. It calls for a locally-led energy efficiency strategy focused on social housing to slash household bills long-term, kickstart the energy market, create jobs, and accelerate Net Zero progress,’ Torrance continued. ‘The more urgently it’s implemented, the more Brits it can protect from fuel poverty. It’s time to end the wait and insulate.’

Revisit our 2021 long read on the need to rethink retrofitting insulation or risk causing even more environmental and atmospheric harm

Image: Craig Davis


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