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Energy Efficient Homes should be a national infrastructure priority

Posted by NEF Gordon on 9 October 2015 at 1:45 pm

New research shows a programme to make homes energy efficient should be a national infrastructure priority for Government.  The report explains that this could deliver economic benefits comparable to High Speed 2 Phase 1, Crossrail and new roads.

The findings build on analysis from Cambridge Econometrics which shows that deploying infrastructure funds to support an energy efficiency programme could create up to 108,000 new jobs and boost Britain’s energy security

A coalition of 50 business leaders, representing over 100,000 employees, including many household names like Kingfisher, Knauf Insulation, Co-operative Energy, the Energy Saving Trust and Worcester Bosch are now calling on Government to create this new national infrastructure programme.

The research reveals that a programme to make UK homes energy efficient would provide net economic benefits of £8.7 billion, based on the Governments own economic analysis.  It could also reduce gas imports by 26%, strengthening Britain’s energy security.

This follows a move in Scotland in August where the five main political parties, including the Scottish Conservatives, committed to outlining plans in their manifestos to improve home energy efficiency through a “national infrastructure project”.

Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has called on industry and consumer groups to work with the Government to make new, stable policy and build a system that works for the longer term.  The call for action comes as the Government is finalising its spending plans in the lead up to the Spending Review when £100 billion is anticipated to be allocated to support infrastructure projects over the next 5 years. If just £3 billion of this was allocated to an energy efficiency infrastructure programme, it could help establish a world leading energy efficiency programme if combined with current funding streams.

Director of the Energy Bill Revolution, Ed Matthew, said:

“The Government has rightly decided that it is time for a rethink on energy efficiency. Now it is essential to develop a new, value for money infrastructure programme that works to keep our homes warm and bills down.”

“Today’s research is clear: investing in energy efficiency offers significant net economic benefits to the nation, comparable to infrastructure investments in roads and railways. A major energy infrastructure programme would boost GDP growth, reduce the UK’s reliance on gas imports and help deliver a net increase in employment across the country. It would also have the additional benefit of keeping energy bills down, reducing health costs and warming up the homes of the fuel poor.”

Richard Gillies, Group Sustainability & Communications Director at Kingfisher, said:

“Better homes lead to better lives and fixing Britain’s draughty homes would be a triple win. It would be good for bill-payers, good for our economy, and good for our environment too.”

“It would provide a massive boost to jobs and more than pays for itself. Ultimately, an investment in the infrastructure of our homes is an investment in the productivity and prosperity of the UK.”

This country’s draughty homes are amongst the most expensive to heat in Europe. The UK has one of the highest levels of fuel poverty in Western Europe, as well as one of the worst proportions of homes in a poor state of repair.  While most other European countries face higher energy prices than those of the UK, better quality home insulation means most of our European neighbours pay less to heat their homes.

The UK scores poorly against other European countries on a range of measures, including the affordability of heating, the share of household expenditure going on heating, and the ability of homes to keep heat in.

So, what’s next?  With the spending review due on 25th November many commentators are expecting drastic cuts to departmental budgets, making this an infrastructure priority would release additional funds which may be the only way that we can improve our homes and meet our carbon reduction commitments.

Watch this space…or you can find more information and read the full report here.

Photo: SuperHomes

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