There is huge potential for economic stimulus provided by a programme of housing decarbonisation in the north of England. Not only are warmer, healthier homes with lower emissions crucial to our journey to a net zero carbon future, but they could also form a key element in the government’s efforts to ‘level up’ the North’s economy in a time of pandemic.

Direct emissions from housing need to be reduced by 24 per cent by 2030 to meet the UK’s Paris Agreement commitments, and further impetus is required to meet the legally binding net zero 2050 target, let alone the 2030-2040 targets of many of the North’s local authorities. But sufficient progress is not being made and a fresh drive is needed to decarbonise housing.

Many people in the North have been left behind with regional inequalities set to worsen in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Poor housing (the worst in Europe) combined with low incomes and rising unemployment have left many people with a bleak future. A new ambitious programme of decarbonising the North’s housing, starting with social housing providers, could help restart the recovery and provide a much needed plan for a specific economic intervention that contributes to the government's much-discussed agenda of ‘levelling up’.