Train local, work local, stay local: Retrofit, growth, and levelling up
The UK is facing the worst energy bill crisis in at least 50 years. The price cap freeze, and total of £550 in support to households is welcome but temporary. While households will now be shielded from the worst increases, gas prices are projected to remain high for several years.
In a crisis like this, the government should be pulling every possible policy lever available to it, to reduce energy consumption, move away from gas permanently and ensure the government is not subsidising UK energy bills for years to come. This will require an enormous increase in the pace of retrofitting people’s homes with insulation to cut energy bills and upgrading their boilers to heat pumps to get them off the gas grid and protect households from future price shocks.
Retrofitting the UK’s leaky, cold, and damp homes has always been about more than just meeting net zero targets but in the current dire economic context, it is now a critical lever in securing economic security. In addition to cutting household energy bills, the government could make retrofitting the cornerstone of its levelling up strategy by creating jobs that can be trained for and filled locally and have a substantial impact on local economies across England.
This paper sets out a series of recommendations to address skills bottlenecks and prepare the industry to make a substantial contribution to cutting household energy bills, driving the government’s levelling up strategy, and meeting net zero targets.