THE Labour Party has pledged to tackle the housing crisis and the climate crisis together through a major programme of public investment in homes if it wins the election.
In separate announcements over the weekend, Labour said that it would take steps to ensure all new homes are zero carbon within three years of taking office.
The party also announced a massive programme of public investment – kind of a green version of the last Labour government’s Decent Homes programme – to make existing homes more energy efficient and cheaper to heat.
“Homes should be safe and warm for families and not damage the environment for future generations. But our housing currently contributes a massive 14% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions,” said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn MP.
“We will tackle the housing and climate crises at the same time by building warm and energy efficient homes. At this election, the choice is clear – this is our last chance to take action to protect future generations or allow the Tories to accelerate our planet’s destruction.
“The next Labour government will usher in a Green Industrial Revolution to tackle climate change and create hundreds of thousands of green jobs.”
In delivering Warm Homes for All, its upgrade programme, Labour said it would create 450,000 jobs by installing energy saving measures such as loft insulation and double glazing, renewable and low carbon technologies in “almost all” of the UK’s 27 million homes.
The UK’s housing stock is among the worst insulated in Europe. Electricity and heat use in buildings is the biggest source of emissions in the UK today – 56% of the total. It also costs households billions over the odds in heating bills and pushes 3.5 million households into fuel poverty.
According to National Energy Action, last year around 10,000 winter deaths were caused by ill health linked to cold homes. According to Age UK, most avoidable deaths were people aged 75 and over.
Labour says its upgrade programme for low income households would be grant funded, so they would pay no upfront costs and see their bills fall after the work is done. They would keep “most” of the saving on their bills, with the rest used to “pay off part of the cost of the work”.
Wealthier households, meanwhile, would be offered interest free loans to improve their homes and lower their energy bills. As for landlords, they would be regulated to ensure their properties are warm and energy efficient.
“Warm Homes for All is one of the greatest investment projects since we rebuilt Britain’s housing after the Second World War,” said Labour’s shadow business and energy secretary, Rebecca Long Bailey MP.
“Labour will offer every household in the UK the chance to bring the future into their homes – upgrading the fabric of their homes with insulation and cutting edge heating systems – tackling both climate change and extortionate bills.
“This project will also create hundreds of thousands of good unionised construction jobs, bringing good work back to areas of the UK the Tories abandoned long ago.”
Corbyn added: “If we don’t radically change course, we face the threat of a hostile and dying planet. But Labour will turn that threat into an opportunity. We will tackle the climate crisis by putting wealth in the hands of the many not the few, with lower bills, more good jobs and better health.
“By investing on a massive scale, we will usher in a Green Industrial Revolution with good, clean jobs that will transform towns, cities and communities that have been held back and neglected for decades.”
Meanwhile, in a separate announcement, Labour pledged to make all new homes zero carbon within three years of winning office with what it says would be a “tough” new zero carbon standard. This would set out better energy efficiency standards and low carbon and renewable energy sources, which could mean all new homes are fitted with solar panels, super-efficient insulation and triple-glazed windows, and not fitted with fossil fuel heating systems such as gas boilers as standard.
“The Conservatives’ decision to cave in to property developers and slash green standards means we are building homes today that aren’t fit for the future – they’re bad for the environment and expensive to run,” said shadow housing secretary, John Healey MP.
“After nearly 10 years of the Conservatives outsourcing housing policy to commercial house builders, we need a Labour government that will set common-sense rules which save households money and cut emissions.”