Investment in energy efficient homes needed to meet emissions target

A government Select Committee has produced a report calling for urgent action to tackle poor energy efficiency in homes in the UK, affecting both the owner-occupier and buy-to-let market.

As part of the government’s pledge to achieve ‘net zero’ carbon emissions – meaning emissions are balanced by absorbing the equivalent amount from the atmosphere – MPs recognise that they need to promote energy improvements for UK housing and encourage greater public support and investment to reach national targets.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee’s report, Energy Efficiency: building towards net zero, follows the recommendations laid out in the first National Infrastructure Assessment published last July.

Energy efficient homes should be national priority

The BEIS report stresses the importance of pushing more energy efficient buildings to help the UK meet its carbon reduction targets cost-effectively. It flags concerns that currently, public investment is inadequate when it comes to making homes energy efficient. It urges that greater attention and priority should be given to home insulation.

The Committee’s report endorses the Commission’s call for the government to prioritise investment of £3.8bn on improvements to the energy efficiency of the UK’s social housing stock.

The BEIS Committee believes that the creation of energy efficient homes should be designated a national infrastructure priority. Its report asks for the government to act in toughening up energy efficiency standards in building regulation and to boost funding for the Green Home Finance Innovation Fund.

National Infrastructure Commission Chair Sir John Armitt said: “With 22% of carbon emissions coming from heating alone, creating more energy efficient homes can make a huge contribution to achieving the UK’s net zero ambitions.

“Our National Infrastructure Assessment calls on the government to rapidly accelerate the pace of energy efficiency improvements so that 21,000 measures, such as floor, wall and loft insulation are being delivered each week.”

“This should cover all types of property and include significant funding for improvements to council and housing association homes, as endorsed by the Committee.”

Tax incentives for buy-to-let landlords to improve energy efficiency

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee is also now seeking an increase in the cap limiting landlord spend on energy efficiency improvements to £5,000. At present, under the Government’s Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES), landlords with properties in the lowest energy efficiency bands (F or G) are expected to contribute up to £3,500 towards the cost of bringing them to an E or better.

Government data shows that between 2007 and 2017, the proportion of private rented homes with an energy performance rating of F or G fell from 22% to 6%.

David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) said: “Whilst we believe rented homes should be as energy efficient as possible, this requires a tax system that properly supports and encourages investment in energy efficiency measures.”

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