West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas has written an influential article arguing for the need to improve the standards of homes if the UK is to meet net zero and levelling up targets.
Writing in ‘The House’ magazine, a long-established Westminster publication with articles written and edited by MPs and which is read by Parliamentarians and policy shapers, Mr Thomas says “there is no better way to level up communities than by improving the quality of the homes people live in”.
“The Government could deliver this priority, alongside those of reaching net zero and helping businesses to build back greener, by doubling down on its commitment to home energy.”
In the article, Mr Thomas argues that reducing the amount of heat that leaks out of homes plays a major role in decarbonising the UK and welcomes the Green Homes Grant, introduced earlier this year, which has the triple benefit of tackling climate change, helping those who can least afford it to upgrade their homes, and supporting construction businesses in difficult economic times.
He acknowledges that levelling up the country’s housing stock will take years to complete and says that new financial incentives will be required to keep up consumer demand as well as support jobs and believes that energy efficiency measures in areas like West Cornwall where there is a large stock of leaky, draughty homes, could make a big difference to people’s lives by cutting bills and making homes warmer.
The Government is set to publish a Heat and Buildings Strategy later this year and Mr Thomas hopes that it will contain a long-term multi-pronged plan for energy efficiency.
“Whatever the mechanism, helping people to hire workers to upgrade their homes will benefit small businesses in the construction sector in particular,” he adds.
“We will also need to work with the market to bring the cost of low-carbon heating options down. The Government could announce a date for industry to phase out the sale of new gas boilers, while setting a cost reduction challenge for the heat pump sector in return for ongoing subsidy, as the UK did so effectively with offshore wind.
“Energy efficiency is a solution where we really can get started right now, helping small businesses to recover and people to save on their energy bills while staying warmer.”