Retrofitting homes in the north of England 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 influential think-tank IPPR North.
At a time when the UK government is looking to boost, or level up the economy amid the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, says the report, retrofitting northern homes to improve energy efficiency by taking steps which include fitting insulation, removing gas boilers and replacing them with heat pumps and heat networks could create many of the jobs needed for recovery. The IPPR claims this could also bring a £3.85bn GVA boost each year for the north, and £5.61m GVA boost every year in supply chains across the UK.
The report outlines that retrofitting homes will be a particular challenge for the north, pointing out that almost one in four of the 6.8 million homes in the region were built before 1919, and 44% were built before 1944. It also emphasises that 1.35 million homes in the north fail to meet decent home standards and that fuel poverty is another key problem that must be ended to achieve ‘levelling up’ in the north.
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 is calling for the rapid retrofit of all social housing within a decade - 1.27 million homes in the north. This, they say, would ‘pump-prime’ the economy for a larger decarbonisation programme, requiring an investment of £2.36bn a year over this decade, at least half of which (£1.18bn) 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”.
The IPPR research was completed in partnership with the Northern Housing Consortium.