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November 17, 2022

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Energiesprong UK’s response to Autumn Statement 2022 – our three asks

Pictured: Long-term, targeted investment and policy support in the Netherlands has enabled a thriving deep retrofit sector - with whole streets having homes upgraded.

Having long called for significant investment in energy efficiency to tackle the climate crisis and reduce fuel poverty, we welcome that this need was acknowledged in today’s Autumn statement.

Investing £6bn is a significant step in the right direction, as is creating a national taskforce to oversee these efforts. However, for this to have the impact that’s required to truly unlock deep retrofit to tackle the climate and energy crisis, we urge the Government to consider three key asks:

1. Learn the lessons from previous energy efficiency schemes and ensure funding is invested in the right places – financial support must be structured in the right way to encourage training and investment in innovation starting now to enable the supply chain to deliver at the scale and speed required when funding doubles.

2. Create a cross-party taskforce that draws on industry knowledge – putting the interests of the country first by providing long-term consistency at a time of national crisis

3. Commit to year-on-year budget increases in-line with the scale of the challenge - with 29 million homes in the UK representing ~20% of our emissions, an extra £6bn isn’t going to cut it long-term – we calculate that 100bn will be needed to achieve our net zero goals by 2050.

Let’s create an industrialised retrofit accelerator programme

We continue to call for a clear National Retrofit Strategy with £250m of innovation investment over five years to unlock retrofit as a key part of the net-zero industrial revolution.

Alongside a clear target, five – seven years of innovation funding following the “commit and review” Offshore Wind Accelerator arrangement would enable the development of factories, products and processes to decrease unit cost and increase speed of deployment for deep retrofit.

This is completely in-line with the focus on innovation and technology that was outlined in today’s statement. And the move towards energy efficiency is a huge opportunity to create significant economic growth. In fact, UKERC found in 2019 that energy efficiency has contributed to 25% of all the UK’s economic growth since 1971.

This accelerator programme would kickstart and create a self-sustaining retrofit market to deliver our 2050 goals without expensive subsidies, tackling many of our converging social and economic challenges by:

  • Delivering a thriving, innovative net-zero economy with strong business opportunities for SMEs and big corporates alike, stimulating supply chains and offering high-tech job opportunities for current and future generations.
  • Creating a cost-effective, functioning and self-financing industry that’s market led, rather than dictated by heavy policy or subsidies.
  • Insulating our country from volatile energy markets, and position ourselves as a global net-zero leader.
  • Leveraging low-cost transition with highly energy-efficient homes that are easy to supply and don’t stress the grid.
  • Enabling effective levelling up across the UK, helping all families enjoy warm, desirable homes with affordable, stable bills.

We need to collaborate to innovate

From putting aside political differences to collaborating with competitors, the government and the wider construction industry must come together to tackle this massive challenge.  

A taskforce that has a clear mission, with a long-term targeted investment budget, must be populated by representatives from across all political parties to avoid the stop-start funding schemes that have characterised the last 12 years.

On top of this, it must work hand-in-hand with industry experts who truly understand how retrofit schemes will work in practice and can provide useful insights into what’s already been learned – we do not have time to repeat the same mistakes. We also need to follow in the footsteps of other successful sectors that have collaborated to solve common challenges, like the automotive industry.

There is already a network of retrofit organisations across the UK willing to share these lessons. Us included!

Understand that this funding is just the beginning

A 15% reduction target is a good start but it will not help us meet our climate goals, to which the government has just reaffirmed commitment.

Based on the Committee on Climate Change estimate that the UK’s net-zero GHG target can be met at an annual resource cost of up to 1-2% of GDP to 2050, we calculate that around £100bn will be required between now and then for upgrading our homes and buildings.

This will require a clear, long-term plan for increased investment from now until 2050 – again emphasising how essential it is for the taskforce to have cross-party support and understanding.

Check out our wider policy asks for unlocking whole house retrofit at scale.