MIMA comments on both the Heat and Buildings and Net Zero Strategies
Sarah Kostense-Winterton, Executive Director at MIMA and Chairman of the EEIG comments “MIMA is encouraged to see that the Government is starting to make a move to fully decarbonise our homes, helping people switch to low carbon heating systems, and continuing funding energy efficiency improvements for those in fuel poverty.
However, the long-awaited Heat and Buildings Strategy has missed the opportunity to put in place much-needed incentives and financial support for a broad range of homeowners to improve the fabric performance of their homes and reduce heating costs now. Crucially, the strategy also falls short of the commitments in the Conservative manifesto, for example, £3.8bn was committed for the decarbonisation of social housing, yet less than a quarter of that has been brought forward between existing policy and the new strategy.
Insulating our homes is the most important piece of this jigsaw. Putting the emphasis on installing heat pumps without making sure all those receiving them also have the means to upgrade their insulation if they need to, could lead to larger, more costly heat pumps needing to be installed or a risk of colder homes for some.
The strategy acknowledges that how well a property is insulated plays a big part in the size of heat pump needed and how efficient it is going to be – but doesn’t go on to propose a solution for non-fuel poor, uninsulated or partially insulated homes. Overall, insulation and fabric improvements are the key to reducing and stabilising heating demand, regardless of the type of heating system in place, and should be a core part of any retrofit strategy.
It is also concerning that recent EEIG research shows that only one in 12 people strongly agree that the government is doing enough to encourage people to reduce emissions from their homes.
The Heat and Buildings Strategy represents the beginnings of a holistic, long-term plan for 2035 and beyond – but more is needed, as outlined in the EEIG’s Better Buildings Investment Plan. It remains vital for the plan to include a suite of policies intended to support owner-occupiers, in particular, in making their homes more energy efficient.
Owner-occupiers account for around 64% of our 28 million households, and whilst we acknowledge a further consultation is planned, the current strategy offers little in the way of help for them. This sector needs a range of options for financing energy efficiency retrofits, as well as strong incentives to carry out the work, such as revenue-neutral Green Stamp Duty.
With a robust long-term investment plan covering all tenures will we see the supply chain rising to the challenge, making major investments in skills and training, and de-risking the market for the many firms we rely on to deliver Net Zero. Post pandemic the Government has the opportunity to change direction, avoid another boom-bust cycle, and create a lasting legacy: a capable and a sustainable building energy efficiency market.
Using the PM’s own words, only this will make the transition to green homes “affordable, attractive and fair”.
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