All 33 of London’s local authorities have agreed a joint plan to cut carbon emissions from 3.8m domestic buildings by rolling out retrofitting across the city.
The net-zero plan could see an investment of around £100bn in the green economy, which would produce massive environmental and economic benefits, according to London Councils.
The body says that, by committing to upgrade all housing stock to an average energy performance rating of EPC B by 2030, city boroughs will drive a “dramatic” decarbonisation of London property.
London Councils estimates that achieving net-zero in every property in the city will cost £98bn overall, but that the investment would support 200,000 jobs linked to insulating and retrofitting by 2030.
Additional benefits include a reduction in fuel poverty, which currently affects 14% of London households.
Highlighting the plan as an unprecedented level of collaboration among UK local authorities on the issue, London Councils says that boroughs’ ambitions for retrofitting the capital rely on targeted government investment, facilitating new private financing opportunities, and encouraging funding by landlords and individual households.
Spending review & COP26
With the government’s Spending Review and the COP26 climate change summit fast approaching, boroughs are urging minsters to increase local governments’ access to resources to carry out retrofitting and decarbonisation initiatives.
London Councils is calling on the government to use its Spending Review to announce:
- £30m of up-front funding for the next phase of the UK Cities Climate Investment Commission work
- Delivery of the £3.8bn Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund and £2.5bn Home Upgrade Grant
- New financial incentives to encourage private retrofitting
Philip Glanville, mayor of Hackney and chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, said: “Achieving net-zero is undoubtedly a momentous challenge, but it’s also an invaluable opportunity to work with communities in improving energy efficiency, embedding green skills, and driving a green economic recovery.
“This is a vital investment in a greener future for London and the whole UK.
“Retrofitting on this scale will bring immediate benefits by creating new jobs while also at this crucial time lowering Londoners’ fuel bills, cutting carbon emissions, and addressing the climate emergency.
“As we approach the Spending Review and COP26, the government should seize the day and boost local funding for this important work, which is integral to the UK’s ability to make net-zero happen.”
Joanne Drew, co-chair of the London Housing Directors’ Group, said: “Boroughs are fully committed to the home retrofit agenda and are proud to pioneer a new collaborative approach.
“Our plan identifies the steps needed to turn ambition into reality, setting out the costs involved and measures we will take to work with residents and landlords.”
Rolling out retrofit
The Retrofit London Housing Action Plan was developed by organisation’s including London Housing Directors’ Group with support from the London Environment Directors’ Network, the GLA, and Enfield and Waltham Forest.
It sets out several key principles, including:
- Boroughs should retrofit their own stock of 390,000 council homes and facilitate retrofit on the whole housing stock across London’s 3.8m homes
- Planning decisions and guidance should support low-carbon retrofit activity
- London needs to move away “rapidly” from gas heating to avoid a long-term reliance on fossil fuel based energy systems
- Boroughs will work collectively to develop skills and procurement models that can build capacity within the sector and engage with residents to support retrofit
The National Audit Office (NAO) recently criticised delivery standards in the government’s £1.5bn Green Homes Grant scheme as “rushed” and noted the scheme’s design failed to “sufficiently understand the challenges”.
Launched in September 2020 and scrapped in March 2021, the scheme was set up to help homeowners retrofit and insulate their homes.
London Councils wants the government to focus on longer-term investment in retrofitting and to work with local authorities on a joined-up, cross-tenure approach.
In its submission to the government’s Spending Review – which the chancellor will unveil on 27 October – London Councils listed the green recovery as a top priority for the coming years, while also pointing to the funding constraints that risk hampering progress.
London boroughs have seen a 25% reduction in overall funding since 2010.
Image: FLUKY FLUKY/Shutterstock
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