Upcoming Budget must prioritise energy efficiency of UK homes

The Budget must include measures to make Britain's homes more energy efficient, boosting the construction industry and reducing household bills, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has warned Osborne.

In a letter to the Chancellor George Osborne, FMB chief executive Brian Berry said that the Government should redirect the funds obtained through the European Emissions Trading Scheme and the Carbon Floor Price to fund a mass public sector upgrade of the UK’s homes. 

According to Berry, this would boost economic growth, increase employment opportunities and reduce the UK’s carbon emission targets.

He added: “By 2016, 9 million British households could be in fuel poverty. We need action now to help get Britain building towards growth, and independent economists estimate that diverting funds into a massive public-sector programme to improve the energy-efficiency of Britain’s existing 26 million homes would boost GDP by 0.2%, create 130,000 jobs and help the Government meet its own targets for cutting carbon emissions.”

Berry also referred to Osborne’s reluctance to commit to zero carbon homes by 2016 which prompted Labour MPs to urge the Government to end the delay on new Building Regulations last week. 

He said: “We also want ministers to rethink the unrealistic timeline for zero carbon homes, which was set back in 2006 before the economic slump. Our own survey of smaller housing developers found that the proposals to change Part L of the Building Regulations in October this year could add more than £3,500 to the cost of building a new house.

“This will discourage even more developers from building new homes, further exacerbating the desperate housing shortage and locking low and middle-income buyers out of the market.”

Berry’s final demand was for a cut in VAT from 20% to 5% on home renovation and repair.

He said: “Cutting VAT on renovation and repair would give a shot in the arm to beleaguered builders, create jobs and encourage householders to make their homes more comfortable, affordable and energy efficient.”

Conor McGlone

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