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The UK government needs to commit £11.7bn ($15.9bn) over the next three years to retrofit 19 million cold homes if it wants to meet its net zero target, according to The New Economics Foundation.
The think tank wants this as part of the upcoming budget announcement — UK chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce the conclusions of the 2021 Spending Review on 27 October.
In a petition to prime minister Boris Johnson, the foundation said: "Your presidency of COP26 [the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference] is fast approaching and there is simply no credible pathway to meeting Britain's targets to net zero without retrofitting our nation's homes.”
It said that across the country, millions of homes are in need of upgrading as they are “draughty, cold and rely on fossil fuels to heat them.” The think tank added that homes are one of the largest sources of carbon emission in the country, making up around 20% of total UK emissions.
This is made even worse this winter as families struggle with the rise in energy prices.
“Upgrading our homes would mean they stay warmer and don’t rely on fossil fuels while at the same time creating millions of secure, well-paid, long-term jobs,” the petition said.
These upgrades would include double glazing and wall insulation as well as advanced green technologies like heat pumps and solar panels
The think tank has proposed the Great Homes Upgrade — a package of measures, to be realised in the government’s autumn budget and the upcoming heat and building strategy, to put the UK on a "rapid and credible" pathway to retrofitting 7 million homes by 2025 and almost 19 million by 2030.
It wants to start with social housing: "We can help set up localised plans, and create the environment for business to mobilise later down the line. It’s also more socially just."
The New Economics Foundation believes the government should spend an additional £7bn on home insulation and £4.7bn on heat pumps during the course of this parliament, as well as launch a taskforce that will work with local authorities to deliver area-based retrofit programmes.
The think tank has also suggested changes to taxes — it wants the government to introduce a variable stamp duty for more energy efficient homes, plus a VAT on retrofit that is set at 5%.
Watch: The £2bn Green Home Grants scheme explained