As the Chancellor George Osborne prepares to deliver his Budget on Wednesday 19 March, UK-GBC is urging him to make energy efficiency a top infrastructure priority and in doing so “rescue the ailing Green Deal”.

The UK has more than 25 million homes, most of which are hugely energy inefficient, according to the UK-GBC.

The issue prompted Government to launch its flagship energy efficiency scheme the Green Deal in January 2013. The scheme, however, has come under fire for the slow uptake of energy efficiency measures by customers.

UK-GBC is calling on Government to treat energy efficiency as a capital spending priority, providing grants for the fuel poor and using its borrowing power to reduce the cost of Green Deal finance and encourage a greater retrofit market.

It also says that householders need a more compelling reason to take action – including permanently linking Stamp Duty to energy efficiency and the introduction of robust regulation for privately rented homes – forcing landlords to improve the worst performing property.

UK-GBC chief executive Paul King said: “As our energy bills continue to climb year on year and the need to reduce our emissions becomes ever more urgent, energy efficiency is the only antidote. But make no mistake, the scale of the challenge, and equally the opportunity for the construction industry, is huge.

“By retrofitting one million homes a year over the next 25 years, Mr Osborne could end the misery of rising energy bills, fuel poverty, and slash our carbon emissions. But Government must make energy efficiency a top infrastructure priority and provide the necessary support to allow this market to flourish,” added King.

Meanwhie, more than 50 organisations have signed an open letter to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles urging him to “build the energy bill anxiety out of UK homes”.

The letter specifically asks Pickles to refrain from scrapping the Merton Rule, a borough wide prescriptive planning policy that requires new developments to generate at least 10% of their energy needs from on-site renewable energy equipment.

Leigh Stringer

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie