Retrofitting homes in the North of England, as part of an effort to meet the UK’s commitments in the Paris Agreement, could create 77,000 new jobs in the region as well as 111,000 supply chain jobs across the UK by 2035, according to new research by leading think-tank IPPR North.
At a time when government are looking to boost, or ‘level up’ the economy amid the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic; retrofitting Northern homes to improve energy efficiency by taking steps which include fitting insulation, removing gas boilers which are a key contributor to household emissions and replacing them with heat pumps and heat networks could create many of the jobs needed for recovery. It could also bring a £3.85 billion GVA boost each year for the North, and £5.61 million GVA boost every year in supply chains across the UK.
Retrofitting homes will be a particular challenge for the North. Of the 6.8 million homes in the region, almost one in four were built before 1919, and 44 per cent were built before 1944. What’s more, 1.35 million homes in the North fail to meet decent home standards which can be dangerous for people- from children whose healthy development could be impacted, to older people whose existing health conditions could be exacerbated.
Fuel poverty is another key problem that must be ended to achieve ‘levelling up’ in the North. As we approach the Covid-19 winter and a second lockdown, there are approximately 731,500 fuel poor homes in the North—that’s over one in ten households which is higher than the England average. In contrast, government action to protect people from poor quality housing and fuel poverty by retrofitting homes will reduce bills, making it easier for people to stay warm.
To achieve retrofitting and the multiple benefits it will bring, and to ensure that housing plays its part in meeting the UK’s emissions reduction commitments, IPPR North are today calling for the rapid retrofit of all social housing within a decade- 1.27 million homes in the North. This would ‘pump-prime’ the economy for a larger decarbonisation programme, requiring an investment of £2.36 billion a year over this decade, at least half of which (£1.18 billion) must be grant funded by government.
Marcus Johns, Research Fellow at IPPR North said:
“64 councils and combined authorities in the North have declared a climate emergency, but the nation isn’t doing enough to meet our emissions commitments. In fact, if everyone in the world lived like the average UK citizen, we would need 2.5 planets’ worth of resources.
“Decarbonisation isn’t an option- it’s vital for our region, our country and our planet. Not only will it make a difference to the world we live in, but it could also help us to create high quality jobs in a healthier, greener, economically just North.
“As we approach an incredibly tough winter, during which time people living in fuel poverty and non-decent homes will be disproportionately affected- the time for government invest in a green stimulus into the North is now. But make no mistake, failing to do so will result in further ‘levelling down’ of northern housing”.