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Make social housing warmer and greener, says minister

Green MP Caroline Lucas said it was "shameful" there was no mention of the "failing" Green Homes Grant at the Budget
The Government’s Green Homes Grant has been described as “failing” and there are reports in could face the axe. Image credit: Falco / Pixabay

A minister has said there are “huge benefits” in retrofitting homes to make them warmer and greener, despite the Government’s flagship building upgrade scheme reportedly reaching a tiny percentage of its target.

Environmental and empty homes campaigners have long called for the retrofitting of old-style housing, which entails increasing the energy efficiency of less modern homes and reducing the amount of lost heat. 

But reports have claimed the Green Homes Grant, the Government’s flagship scheme to upgrade homes, is only reaching a small fraction of its 600,000 household target and could face the axe as builders and installers failed to sign up.

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In an interview with Inside Housing as part of its retrofit challenge virtual summit, climate change minister Lord Callanan said there were “huge benefits to be realised from retrofitting warmer and greener homes”. 

He added the Government had a duty to maximise the energy efficiency of social housing.

“If there is a chance to maximise the energy efficiency of our social housing supply at the same time as making these homes safer, it is incumbent on all of us to do just that where it is practical,” Callanan said. 

“The dual ambitions of having safer homes and greener homes are integral to the Government’s commitment to building back better and building back fairer.” 

Under the £3 billion Green Homes Grant scheme, which would also have seen state-owned buildings upgraded, homeowners are offered vouchers worth up to £10,000 to make green improvements. 

But there was no mention of the troubled programme in this week’s Budget, despite experts saying it should remain if the Treasury is serious about a green recovery.

Green MP Caroline Lucas said it was “shameful” there was no mention of the “failing” Green Homes Grant at the Budget. 

She wrote on Twitter: “Climate experts are clear we cannot meet climate targets without home retrofits. 

“Where is the long-term investment to upgrade the UK’s leaky homes which householders and the climate so desperately needs?” 

Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Olney added that ministers had continued with their green strategy of “words, not action” with no mention of the grant. 

“This is a scheme that could solve fuel poverty, reduce energy bills for millions, cut emissions and support thousands of small businesses,” she added.