Time is running out to decarbonise the UK’s housing

Stonewater welcomes IPPR latest research on decarbonising the nation’s homes.

Nicholas Harris

Housing Association Stonewater has today welcomed a new report by IPPR, that shows that at least 12 million homes in England need to be fitted with heat pumps and new energy efficiency measures, if the UK is to meet its net zero targets by 2050, and lift thousands of households out of fuel poverty.

In his Summer Budget announcement last week, the Chancellor pledged £50 million on a pilot to fund the decarbonisation of social housing properties, in an attempt to kick start a national retrofitting programme for social housing tenants.

However, this pilot will only stretch to cover the very worst performing social housing stock, benefiting only a fraction of the UK’s social housing tenants.

Commenting on the report, Stonewater CEO Nicholas Harris said: “The Government’s pilot won’t fly. The vast majority will miss out, and it will mean continuing to put up with an inefficient home and high energy bills - or at its worst, a stark choice between paying for heating bills or putting meals on the table. Time is running out, and the sector and Government must act now.”

This latest IPPR report, supported by Stonewater, lays out a new ‘Home Improvement Plan’, a new comprehensive strategy to deliver, at scale, the energy efficiency and low-carbon heating measures needed to reduce energy demand and emissions.

This new Home Improvement Plan would help to drive the UK’s net zero targets, tackle fuel poverty for the very poorest, and help create new employment opportunities across the country.

This report outlines an ambitious plan for decarbonising homes across all tenures in England but makes the case for the social rented sector to be placed at the centre of a wide-reaching green infrastructure programme in order for the UK to rise to the climate challenge.

Commenting on the report, Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor said: "Everyone needs a warm home. We're wasting fuel and money by not insulating houses. We should see this as an investment, not an expense. It creates jobs, tackles the climate emergency, increases the value of homes, and saves on energy. It's blindingly obvious that this needs to happen, and soon."

A national problem for millions of households:

  • 12 million homes in England need to be fitted with heat pumps and energy efficiency measures to hit UK net zero targets by 2050 and lift millions of households out of fuel poverty.
  • 2.4 million households in England are still in fuel poor poverty and the government is likely to miss its target to upgrade the efficiency of their homes by at least 60 years.
  • The government’s proposal for a Clean Heat Grant for heat pumps would cost the poorest households up to 60 per cent of their average annual income
  • In England it would require £10.6 billion per year through to 2030, dropping to £7 billion from 2030 to 2050, to retrofit all homes below an EPC of C with heat pumps and high energy efficiency standards
  • Investing in heat pumps, heat networks and the energy efficiency of these homes would generate nearly 275,000 new jobs, spread across every region in England by 2035.

Over the next ten years, it would require a total investment of £36 billion to meet the scale of action needed to decarbonise the 1.76 million social rented homes that currently fail to meet EPC of C.

Only this level of investment will provide energy efficiency, reduce household emissions and eliminate the risk of fuel poverty for millions of UK household.

A challenging reality for social housing tenants across the regions:

Across the country, the level of investment required is greater in the Midlands, North East and North West of England, which is home to a larger portion of the UK’s social rented households.

  • In the North East, across the North of Tyne region alone there are over 36,000 social rented homes which need retrofitting at a cost of £900million. Investment in the Home Improvement Plan would provide an estimated 15,300 jobs North East region.
  • In the North West, across the Manchester and Liverpool region alone there are over 180,000 social rented homes which require a total of over £4.7billion of investment. Investment in the Home Improvement Plan would provide an estimated 36,600 jobs in the North West region.
  • In the West Midlands, retrofitting over 110,000 social houses will cost approximately £3.1billion. Investment in the Home Improvement Plan would provide an estimated 29,400 jobs.

Read the full report here