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UK to announce £3bn package to boost energy efficiency in homes

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The Government is poised to announce a £3bn package for British homeowners to make their houses more energy efficient.

With the Covid-19 pandemic having a devastating impact on the UK’s economy, green campaigners have been calling on the Government to announce a broad programme of subsidised home upgrades in order to lower the country’s carbon output and create badly needed jobs.

The Sun reported that on Wednesday Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce vouchers worth up to £10,000 for some of the poorest families to carry out remedial works on their homes, such as installing insulation, eco-friendly boilers, heat pumps or double-glazed windows.

The 'Green Homes Grant' scheme should boost the livelihoods of plumbers, builders and tradesmen that have been badly hit by the pandemic.

The Government is also set to launch a parallel scheme worth £1bn to improve the efficiency of public buildings, such as schools and hospitals.

Funding of £50m will go to pilot innovative schemes to retrofit social housing at scale, which could save an average of £200 for some of the poorer households.

Campaigners have said the actions are a welcome “down payment” but urge the Government to fulfil its manifesto pledge to invest £9.2bn in energy efficiency.

Ed Matthew, associate director at climate think tank E3G, said: “If this funding is the down payment on their manifesto commitment then it is a welcome start. If this is the total level of energy efficiency investment they are pledging, then it is peanuts – barely enough to get us to the end of this year if we are to get on track to net zero.”

Greenpeace UK’s Rosie Rogers pointed to funding by other countries for a green recovery, including £36bn by the German government and £13.5bn by France, and said the UK’s £3bn “isn’t playing in the same league”.

Rogers said: “Of course this money is better than nothing, but it doesn’t measure up to the economic and environmental crises. It’s not enough to create the hundreds of thousands of new green jobs that are needed. It’s not enough to insulate all of the homes and buildings that need to be kept warm and more energy efficient.

“It’s not enough to ‘build back greener’ and it’s certainly not enough to put us on track to tackle the catastrophic impacts of the climate emergency”.

Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband said the plan was not comprehensive and claimed it leaves out one-third of people: “We have consistently called for a recovery which has energy efficiency at its heart and will welcome any measures which achieve that.

“However, this is not a comprehensive plan. It appears there is almost nothing for the people who rent the 8.5 million homes in the social rented sector and private rented sector, which has the worst energy efficiency standards. That means one-third of people are left out.

“It also needs to be part of a much broader and bigger scale strategy for getting back on track for net zero which includes a zero carbon army of young people getting back to work; investment in nature conservation; driving forward renewable energy; helping our manufacturers be part of the green transition, and a plan for our transport network.”

Chris Russell, CEO of Tonik Energy, said: “The recovery package is definitely a step in the right direction from the Government in encouraging households to invest in improving the energy efficiency of their homes; but more could be done through the self-generation of energy via solar panels and the installation of electric vehicle (EV) charge points.

“This will bear fruit in the long term as more people are able to generate their own green energy and it will accelerate the adoption of EVs at a mass market level.

“Easing out of lockdown, consumer attitudes are leaning towards making permanent changes to maintain the cleaner air from less fossil fuelled cars on the road. Achieving this today is possible with electric vehicles.

“The choice of cars is now available on the market and they have the mileage range to be practical for everyday life. In a recent survey of our customers 60 per cent said that they ‘see electric cars as the future for them, but not quite yet’.

“Surely, now is a fantastic opportunity for the government to capitalise on this growing desire, coupled with the need to stimulate the economy on the back of the crisis.

“It is positive to see incentives for buying EV cars, but also grants to help support the infrastructure with the installation of EV chargers in homes and away from home destinations such as office car parks would go a long way to contributing to this green recovery package.”

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