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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

IPPR response to government’s heat-pump plan for UK homes: ‘On the right track’ but needs better funding and more...

Legal deadlines to phase out domestic oil and gas and a nationwide information campaign are also an essential, says think tank

Responding to advance briefing on the government’s long-awaited strategy to decarbonise UK homes, IPPR said tonight that ministers appeared to be heading in the right direction but had much further to go. 

As revealed so far, its plans to offer households grants to install heat pumps – the most effective means of delivering low-carbon heating to most UK homes – are not generous enough, IPPR said.  

The think tank, which published its own comprehensive retrofit plan on the same subject last week, said the government must also to encourage homeowners and landlords to install higher grade insulation through grants and loans, and to set an end date of 2028 for the sale of new oil-fired boilers, and of 2033 for gas boilers. 

It urged a nationwide advertising campaign to raise households’ awareness of what is needed, after polling by YouGov for IPPR found that three in five of the British public habe found either never heard of a heat pump (22 per cent) – or know almost nothing about them (36 per cent). 

Luke Murphy, IPPR associate director and head of its Environmental Justice Commission, said: 

“Homes account for 13 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions and so far precious little has been done to reduce their contribution to the climate crisis. 

“The government’s proposal to provide public funding to support grants for households to upgrade their boilers is therefore encouraging, but to be successful there needs to much higher public funding and more generous grants - particularly for fuel-poor households - than what appears to be on offer. 

“When the full detail emerges tomorrow (TUESDAY), we need to see a commitment to phasing out the sale of new oil and gas boilers, a shift in policy costs from energy bills to paying for them through general taxation, a nationwide information and advertising campaign, investment in local delivery and a plan for training the retrofit army needed to make this a reality. 

“The jury is out on whether this long-awaited strategy has been worth the wait - and in the battle against the climate crisis, time is not on our side.” 

Joshua Emden, research fellow and lead author of the IPPR report, said: 

“This appears to be a mixture of promising policy – particularly on the home upgrades grant – and a disappointing absence of any additional funding for energy efficiency like insulation. The overall pot for grant funding is also very small. 

"The government needs to learn lessons from the failure of the green homes grant, which means supporting training for installers of new heating and of insulation, a full-scale public information campaign and clear legal targets to phase out gas and oil boilers, and improve the energy efficiency of our homes.” 


Joshua Emden and Luke Murphy are available for interview on heat pumps and alll other aspects of the drive to deliver net zero in the UK 


David Wastell, Head of News and Communications: 07921 403651 [email protected]  


  1. The IPPR paper, Pump up the volume: A comprehensive plan to decarbonise the UK’s homes by Joshua Emden and Lesley Rankin, published October 16 is available at:

  2.  Among its recommendations, it called for:

    Full grants for ‘fuel poor’ homes to cover the cost of fitting new insulation and low-carbon heating, principally heat pumps (at an average estimated cost of £12,000 per home).  
    Grants up to £7,500 for installing low carbon heating in other homes, until 2025, including additional measures such as new water tanks and radiators. The average remaining cost for householders would be comparable to the price of a high-end gas boiler.  
    Interest-free loans up to £7,000 from 2025, with repayment subsidies depending on the energy efficiency achieved (used successfully in Germany); and new private financing solutions such as green mortgages that would allow homeowners to add retrofit costs to their loans, in return for lower interest rates.  
    The sale of new oil boilers to be phased out by 2028 and gas boilers by 2033, with minimum energy performance standards (EPC rating C) by 2028 for private rented homes, and by 2030 for homeowners. 
    A national advertising campaign akin to the ‘Tell Sid’ campaign of the 1980s, to raise households’ awareness, understanding and enthusiasm for upgraded insulation and low-carbon heating and the financial support available.  

  3. Heat pumps operate by using a refrigerant to transfer heat from outside a property, even in cold weather, into the interior of a property, on similar principles to a domestic fridge.

  4. Previous IPPR reports on this subject include: 
    All hands to the pumps: A home improvement plan for England 
    and Fairness and opportunity: A people-powered plan for the green transition

  5. IPPR is the UK’s pre-eminent progressive think tank. With more than 40 staff in offices in London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh, IPPR is Britain’s only national think tank with a truly national presence.