From education to employment

Plan for a retrofit revolution: how over a hundred thousand new jobs in North West would boost levelling-up and also tackle energy crisis 

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Retrofitting North West England’s homes with good insulation and new heat pumps is a ‘no-brainer’ to create jobs, boost growth, reduce energy bills, level-up and also meet our net-zero target, according to a new report by progressive think tank IPPR. 

Almost all of England’s 24 million homes need to be upgraded, putting us far behind European neighbours like Germany and France. Additionally, we are currently installing less than 10 per cent of the measures needed in our cold, damp and leaky homes if we want to meet our net-zero target. This means home emissions are high, people pay for it through their bills and health, and the country is overall more exposed to international crises in fuel prices. 

The report lays out a 28-year plan to retrofit every household in England, which at its core would create 1.2 million direct jobs and 1.5 million indirect jobs and provide a cornerstone for the levelling-up agenda, as well as reducing households’ bills by an average of £430 a year. 

There is currently significant regional variation in employment opportunities. A retrofitting programme, at the cost of £7bn a year, would benefit regions such as the North West around twice as much as areas like London. The plan would create over 169,000 new direct retrofitting jobs in the North West equivalent to 4.4 per cent of the total job market in the region, whereas for London retrofitting jobs would represent slightly over 2 per cent of total employment. 

Constituencies like Wallasey, Liverpool West Derby, and Stalybridge and Hyde would benefit the most. 

The report makes five key recommendations for the government to make substantial progress: 

  • Standards – Set a clear direction for the market and introduce stricter EPC minimum standards and deciding on a phase out date banning the sale of oil and gas boilers 
  • Skills – Expand training standards to invest in skills and clamp down on bad practices such as ‘pay to pass’ training 
  • Funding – Introduce a comprehensive ‘one stop shop’ for financial support known as the GreenGo scheme, which would include full grants for fuel poor homes and substantial grants and zero interest loans for other groups. 
  • Communication – Launch a massive national information campaign and a properly resourced advice service 
  • Local capacity – Increase funding to local authorities to deliver retrofitting schemes tailored to their areas 

Luke Murphy, head of the Fair Transition Unit and associate director for the energy, climate, housing and infrastructure team at IPPR, said: 

“The new prime minister and chancellor have said they want to focus on growth. This report shows that a national retrofit programme can deliver jobs and growth right across the country, and deliver levelling up at the same time. It would also lower energy bills, reduce energy demand and our dependence on Putin, and lessen carbon emissions.  

“It’s hard to think of another intervention that could deliver on so many objectives at the same time. It’s time the government acted and invested to upgrade our nation’s homes making them warmer and more affordable. It’s a no-brainer.” 

Joshua Emden, IPPR senior research fellow, said: 

The UK is in the middle of the worst energy bill crisis for at least 50 years. The price cap freeze shields us from absolute catastrophe but many households are already struggling with last April’s increases. It is vital that the government takes steps to make us less vulnerable in future.  

“Retrofitting will not just play a crucial part by cutting energy consumption, but also has the capacity to level-up the regions most in need. Over a million direct jobs, and more than a million more indirect jobs, would be created if the government pursued this retrofitting plan. Left-behind areas like former industrial centres and coastal communities would benefit the most from these jobs and the economic growth it will bring. The country would be better off, the economy would be better off, and the climate would be better off.” 

  1. The IPPR paper, Train local, work local, stay local: Retrofit, growth and levelling up, will be published at 00:01 on Wednesday 21st September 21. It will be available for download at: 
  2. Table: Retrofitting jobs impact by region 
Region New direct retrofitting jobs created Share of current job market in region 
North East 61,280 5.09% 
East Midlands 116,806 4.93% 
Yorkshire & the Humber 137,662 4.99% 
West Midlands 149,224 4.96% 
South West 134,151 4.32% 
East of England 145,627 4.49% 
North West 169,521 4.36% 
South East 191,397 3.90% 
London 138,950 2.27% 
  1. The average reduction in household bills is calculated on the basis of the newly-announced energy price cap, equivalent to average household energy costs of £2,500 per year. 
  2. IPPR is the UK’s pre-eminent progressive think tank. With more than 40 staff in offices in London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh, IPPR is Britain’s only national think tank with a truly national presence. 

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