Advertisement
Opinion

Spring Budget: We need to upgrade Britain’s leaky homes to insulate against the energy crisis

The Great Homes Upgrade is calling on Rishi Sunak to invest £11.7bn to make homes warmer and greener and slash energy bills, says New Economics Foundation organiser Aydin Dikerdem.

Earlier this month campaigners from over 28 organisations came together to call for a Great Homes Upgrade for Britain’s cold and leaky housing stock.

Currently, the UK has some of the least efficient housing in Europe, which means our draughty homes leak heat and suffer from problems like damp and mould. This is not only bad for our health, our wellbeing and our pockets, but it’s also bad for our environment. In fact, one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions in the UK comes from home energy use – just under 20 per cent of total UK carbon emissions.

Subscribe to The Big Issue

From just £3 per week

Take a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide a critical lifeline to our work. With each subscription we invest every penny back into supporting the network of sellers across the UK. A subscription also means you'll never miss the weekly editions of an award-winning publication, with each issue featuring the leading voices on life, culture, politics and social activism.

The recent energy crisis has really hit home how unsustainable this is. People’s bills are going through the roof, and the scourge of fuel poverty is hitting more and more households who just want to keep warm.

Analysis by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) has found that the poorest 10 per cent of families in the UK are currently set to be £420 a year poorer come April, even after government energy rebates and increases to the minimum wage. At the same time, the war in Ukraine is a wake-up call to the dangers of the UK relying on dirty fossil fuels from the global market, when we could have secure renewable sources of energy to keep us warm in our homes.

That’s why NEF is calling for a Great Homes Upgrade, a national programme of work that would transform the lives of millions of households whilst also creating thousands of quality, skilled jobs in insulation and installation.

Upgrading our homes, also known as ‘retrofitting’, is the process of installing new features in a building which has already been built. First, we can make housing more energy efficient through things like better insulation and double- or triple-glazed windows. Second, we can replace dirty fossil-fuel heating systems, like gas boilers, with clean alternatives, like heat pumps. Had we started this work 10 years ago, low-income families would have (literally) been far better insulated against the current price rises in gas and would not be going through so much hardship. Insulation installed in homes in the last decade will save families almost £200 a year from April.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Support The Big Issue

Give your local vendor a hand up and buy the magazine

Each of our vendors buy their copies of the mag for £1.50 each, selling them for £3 and keeping the difference. Visit our interactive map to find your nearest vendor.

The Great Homes Upgrade is a package of measures designed to give this national mission a running start. Currently there is an appetite from businesses to do this work, but they need the government to commit to the first tranche of investment and take the lead.

Investing £11.7billion for home insulation measures and low-carbon heating solutions over the course of this parliament would get us on the path to upgrading seven million homes by 2025 and almost 19 million by 2030. That’s the same amount the government is spending on refurbishing the Houses of Parliament.

Article continues below

Improving health, saving people money, creating thousands of good, skilled jobs and cutting dangerous carbon emissions – it’s no wonder why so many organisations are calling on the government to act.

There are few policies that achieve so many different goals, and that’s reflected in the breadth of organisations that have come out to support this campaign – be it Fuel Poverty Action and the Centre for Ageing Better, climate campaigners like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, industry practitioners like Retrofit Works and Parity Projects – all calling on Rishi Sunak to include a national home retrofitting programme in his upcoming spring Budget. This action was just the start: in order to win this campaign the benefits of retrofit need to become public demand. Together, we can make sure that everyone can afford to live in a warm, safe home.

Aydin Dikerdem is an organiser for think tank the New Economics Foundation.

@AydinDikerdem

Advertisement

Support your local vendor

Want to buy a copy of the magazine? We have over 1,200 Big Issue vendors in the UK. Each vendor buys a copy of the mag for £1.50 and sells it for £3, keeping the difference. Visit our interactive map to find your nearest vendor and support them today!

Recommended for you

Read All
Maybe Liverpool fans wouldn't boo the national anthem if there was a level playing field
Paul McNamee

Maybe Liverpool fans wouldn't boo the national anthem if there was a level playing field

Decades of initiatives didn't solve poverty. What can we do now?
poverty

Decades of initiatives didn't solve poverty. What can we do now?

Homelessness is holding back prison leavers when they get a second chance
prisons

Homelessness is holding back prison leavers when they get a second chance

Poverty is being normalised. We can’t keep depending on good people to fix it. The government must act
Paul McNamee

Poverty is being normalised. We can’t keep depending on good people to fix it. The government must act

Most Popular

Read All
Homeless man who built wooden house on pavement: 'People understand I'm just in a bad situation'
1.

Homeless man who built wooden house on pavement: 'People understand I'm just in a bad situation'

The remarkable rise of Ncuti Gatwa: From sofa surfing and Sex Education to Doctor Who
2.

The remarkable rise of Ncuti Gatwa: From sofa surfing and Sex Education to Doctor Who

Exclusive: The UK's rarest and most threatened wildlife sites are not being protected properly
3.

Exclusive: The UK's rarest and most threatened wildlife sites are not being protected properly

Martin Lewis: 'The link between money problems and mental health problems is just so strong'
4.

Martin Lewis: 'The link between money problems and mental health problems is just so strong'

Keep up to date with The Big Issue. The leading voice on life, politics, culture and social activism direct to your inbox.