The Chair of the Nuclear Free Local Authorities has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer calling upon him to make a big investment of public money to insulate Britain’s cold and draughty homes as part of the Budget, and so help cut customers’ rising energy bills whilst supporting the environment.
The NFLA opposes new nuclear developments and instead wants to see more investment in renewables, energy storage solutions, and energy efficiency measures, such as insulation, to reduce energy use. Councillor David Blackburn’s call follows on from similar requests made by the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Leader of the Opposition Sir Kier Starmer MP, and even Conservative politicians Lord Gummer and Andrea Leadsom.
“Our nation’s housing stock is the worst insulated in Europe. Many millions of British people already struggle to afford to heat their cold and draughty homes, and that struggle is getting harder with fuel bills set to soar much higher. The result will be more people in poor health and many more people facing fuel poverty.
“Retrofitting insulation into British homes will mean warmer homes heated at a lower cost to consumers and less consumption of gas leading to lower carbon emissions. Many jobs can be created carrying out insulation work, jobs that can be accessed by those who have been made unemployed during the Covid pandemic or who are disadvantaged in the labour market, and the health of the nation will be improved, leading to lower demands on our overburdened NHS”.
For Councillor Blackburn putting money into insulating Britain’s homes as a new national priority is ‘common sense’:
“The independent Climate Change Committee found that almost two-thirds of homes can be properly insulated for around £1,000 each and the Royal Institute of British Architects estimated that householders could save at least £500 a year as a result. Investment in insulation is therefore common sense, and I hope the Chancellor will put up the money to make it happen.”
Notes to Editors
For more information please contact: Richard Outram, Secretary, NFLA email Richard.email@example.com / mobile 07583 097793
The letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer follows.
Councillor David Blackburn,
Chair, Nuclear Free Local Authorities,
C/o NFLA Secretariat,
Level 3, Town Hall Extension, Manchester, M60 3NY
14 March 2022
The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP,
Chancellor of the Exchequer,
In this year’s Budget you have the power to take action to address the rising fuel bills now faced by Britain’s energy consumers and head-off the exponential increase in fuel poverty that must result.
Despite being a country notorious for its cold spells, high winds and constant rain, Britons occupy the least energy-efficient housing stock in Europe. Consequently, British energy consumers face ever higher energy bills whilst living in cold and draughty homes.
Elected members in the Nuclear Free Local Authorities are increasingly concerned by the impact of the cost-of-living crisis upon our constituents. We see the government throwing more and more money at the bottomless pit that is new nuclear in a futile attempt to deliver too-late and at too great a cost further electricity generating capacity, but there is little similar investment in the proven renewables that can deliver power now at far lower cost and with a much lower impact on our environment, and near none in reducing energy consumption and fuel bills by making our buildings more energy efficient.
I am today writing to you as Chair of the NFLA to urge you to make more money available for renewables, but more specifically to make a specific commitment in your Budget to invest in a programme of retrofitting insulation to Britain’s homes as a national programme. Alongside direct financial support for those struggling to pay massive fuel bills, such an investment would make a big difference to the lives of our nation’s poorest citizens.
Such a policy has in the last month been advocated by the Chair of the Committee on Climate Change, the Leader of the Opposition, your own party colleague, Andrea Leadsom MP, and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
A programme of insulation would not only mean our homes would become warmer and less draughty, but it will mean less energy is needed to heat them so reducing consumer fuel bills, energy consumption, and our dependence on foreign-sourced gas, which is good for our pockets, good for our environment, and good for our energy sovereignty.
Other benefits would include improvements in public health, as warmer homes mean healthier people, so reducing demands on our overburdened National Health Service, and the creation of many new jobs carrying out this socially valuable work, which could be targeted at those disadvantaged in the labour market and those who find themselves out of work following the Covid pandemic.
In its report, ‘Homes for Heroes: solving the energy efficiency crisis in England’s interwar suburbs’ (1), the RIBA calls for a national programme of public works, costing up to £38 billion, to improve the insulation of England’s 3.3 million interwar homes, those properties first built for our nation’s First World War veterans.
Energy use in homes accounts for about 14% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. Only 10% of interwar homes achieve an energy performance certificate above band C and almost a fifth of households in interwar homes live with fuel poverty (17%). According to the RIBA, if current band D rated homes were retrofitted to achieve a band C performance, households would save £511 a year under the proposed 2022 energy price cap. Such a programme would also mean a cut in our carbon emissions that the RIBA has calculated could be 4%, easing us towards our 2050 net zero target.
The independent Climate Change Committee, chaired by your Conservative colleague and former environment secretary, Lord Gummer, believes that the UK will need to spend £55bn on improving efficiency in existing homes by 2050, but interestingly CCC research reveals that 63% of homes require no more than £1,000 spent on retrofitting energy efficiency measures (2).
Yes £38 or 55 billion is indeed a lot of public money, but you have found hundreds of billions to respond to the Covid pandemic, and millions of Britons shivering in cold and draughty homes, whilst staring at an unpaid, unaffordable heating bill, also represents a national health crisis!
In any case I would venture that this could be paid for by a windfall tax on the bloated profits of fossil fuel companies who have benefited hugely at a time when the lives of many of our citizens are becoming increasingly miserable.
I do hope that this year you will use your Budget to make this positive commitment, and I thank you and your Treasury team for giving my letter your consideration. Please direct any response to this correspondence via the NFLA Secretary, Mr Richard Outram, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor David Blackburn,
Chair, Nuclear Free Local Authorities