Opposition says energy-efficiency programme should be part of £30bn post-covid green jobs stimulus

The Labour Party has called for an expansion of energy efficiency and retrofit programmes for UK housing to spark a green economic recovery in the wake of the covid-19  pandemic.

Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband said the expansion should be part of a £30bn boost to low-carbon sectors of the economy such as energy, electric vehicles and tree-planting, which he said would create 400,000 jobs.

A report drawn up by Labour’s national policy forum said the boost to housing retrofit should be delivered by a series of measures including:

  • Expanding and extending the government’s £50m social housing decarbonisation fund, with £1.8bn of funding required annually
  • Extending the £2bn green homes grant, which has just come in but which is due to end in March, by at least another 18 months
  • Bringing forward and extending the £1bn public sector decarbonisation fund for at least the next 18 months

The report said these measures would create 100,000 jobs in the construction industry. Labour also said the government should scale up and bring forward the recently announced £11.5bn affordable homes programme, and accelerate necessary post-Grenfell building safety works.

The climate change committee has made clear that a huge retrofit programme will be needed for the UK to meet its climate objectives, with seven million home treatments needed by 2030, including full house treatments for 1.5m solid-wall homes.

The RIBA is today urging the government to launch a National Retrofit Strategy to tackle emissions from homes, in its Greener Homes report to the Treasury.

Last week it called for the government to support a ”council housing revolution” which it said would end the housing crisis and create 250,000 jobs.

Labour said its proposals, based on an “extensive” consultation with businesses, unions and other stakeholders, would see the money invested over an 18-month period to create jobs, retrain workers and create a national iInvestment bank to put money in to low-carbon sectors.

The party said it was calling for an economic recovery to deliver high-skilled jobs as part of the drive towards a clean economy and ensure the low-carbon infrastructure of the future is built in Britain.

Without action, Miliband said that the UK was facing a jobs emergency and a climate emergency. “It’s time for a bold and ambitious plan to deliver hundreds of thousands of jobs which can also tackle the climate crisis,” he added.

“This is the right thing to do for so many people who are facing unemployment, the right thing to do for our economy to get a lead in the industries of the future and the right thing to do to build a better quality of life for people in our country.”

>> Also read: Pandemic ‘turbocharging’ domestic emissions crisis, RIBA warns government


Steven Charlton, principal and managing director at Perkins & Will - which describes itself as the first architect in the world to pledge to deliver net-zero interiors and fit-outs for commercial tenants - welcomed Labour’s focus on retrofit programmes. But he urged the party not to ignore other building types.

“Since the built environment as a whole is responsible for 40% of the UK’s carbon emissions, we cannot forget office buildings and commercial spaces, the construction and retrofitting of which have just as much impact on the environment as residential and social housing,” he said.

“The right legislation needs to be put in place to ensure the retrofit programmes include continuous use of resource, circular design principles and supply chain engagement. This way we will ‘Build it in Britain’ better and be a world-leader in delivering net-zero projects from cradle to grave.”