Scheme would see overhaul of UK’s 28 million homes over the next 20 years to improve energy efficiency

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has called on the government to support a £525bn retrofit programme to make the UK’s 28 million homes greener over the next two decades.

The government-convened group, made up of senior construction leaders, said that without a long-term national retrofit strategy to improve the energy efficiency of homes, which currently emit 20% of the UK’s carbon emissions, the government will be unable to meet its targets to achieve net zero by 2050.

It follows Boris Johnson’s announcement earlier this month that he aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 68% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, 15% more than the previous target of 53%. On Monday the government also published its energy white paper, which sets out sets out the steps it aims to take to reach its net zero targets.

The CLC has urged the government to launch a national communications campaign to educate households and the wider industry on the benefits of retrofitting, which it said would boost the economy by creating added disposable income through reduced energy bills and increase the value of properties which have been improved.

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It said the programme, which is being spearheaded by Federation of Master Builders (FMB) chief executive Brian Berry, would help the government’s “levelling-up” agenda by providing more work for SMEs and creating thousands of new and higher skilled jobs in every region of the UK.

To successfully carry out the work, the CLC said that the existing workforce would need to be “more than doubled” to 500,000, with the new workers undergoing an “intensive” training programme alongside piloting and field trials.

The CLC added that one of the government’s key roles would be to provide a long term policy framework to encourage industry confidence and private investment.

“The industry is able to deliver this strategy, but there are critical elements that can only be delivered by the Government,” the CLC said, adding: “While industry can mobilise the majority of the capital that is needed, the Government must also invest to instill confidence in the sector.”

It said that 2021, when the UK will host the United Nations Climate Change Conference would be the ideal moment to get the scheme rolling and “take the bold action needed to reduce carbon emissions before it is too late.”

The government has been vocal about its aims to become a world leader in reducing carbon emissions. Announcing his latest net zero target earlier this month, the prime minister said the UK was “taking the lead” with fighting climate change, adding: “the UK is urging world leaders to bring forward their own ambitious plans to cut emissions and set net zero targets.”

But the government’s current retrofitting programme, the Green Homes Grant, has come under fire from MPs including those in its own party.

The costings for the £3bn scheme, which is due to run out in March 2022, were called “woefully inadequate” by Tory MP Philip Dunne in early December, while nine out of ten respondents to a survey carried out by the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee who had attempted to access the scheme reported having a poor experience.

CLC member Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “To see the leaders of the construction industry adopt the plan, ‘Greening Our Existing Homes’, is a significant step to help create a low carbon built environment. The Government must now work with the construction industry, and all supporters of the retrofit strategy, to implement the report’s recommendations and deliver confidence to business that the retrofit market is here to stay.”