Public wants warmer homes over road or rail spend
Making homes more energy efficient is a greater infrastructure priority for the UK public than building HS2 or new roads, airports and power stations. In a poll out today, 85 per cent of adults rank free energy efficiency measures, which could save an average family £500 every year, in their top three infrastructure priorities.
In fact, 57 per cent of people believe it should be the UK’s number one priority, ahead of building new roads (15 per cent), new power stations (15 per cent), HS2 (3 per cent) or new airports (2 per cent). It is an even greater priority for younger people, with energy efficiency for homes coming first for around 70 per cent of 16 to 24 year olds.
In addition, 63 per cent of people say that, of the infrastructure projects, it would have the biggest benefit for them personally, with the number rising to over 70 per cent for those with children and around three quarters of those aged 35 to 44. The findings were released amid growing concern that the Chancellor will slash investment in energy efficiency in his Autumn Statement next week.
The poll was conducted by TNS for the Energy Bill Revolution, the world’s biggest fuel poverty alliance representing over 150 British businesses, charities, energy companies and unions. The alliance has warned the Chancellor that reducing annual funding for energy efficiency is a dangerously short-term approach that will prevent thousands of people from escaping fuel poverty.
They revealed that Government funding for energy efficiency measures has already been dramatically cut, with investment to help the fuel poor slashed in half before the last long, bitter winter and total spending down by a fifth over the course of this Parliament. The figures were highlighted as official statistics were released showing that 31,000 people died because of the freezing weather last winter, a 29 per cent increase on the previous year.
Ed Matthew, director of the Energy Bill Revolution, said: “The Government has over £100 billion in infrastructure projects planned but not one single penny is set aside to insulate homes. All parties need to listen. What people want more than anything is warm homes. This must be the UK’s number one infrastructure priority.”
The Energy Bill Revolution is calling for action that will effectively and sustainably end fuel poverty for good.The alliance believes a nationwide programme to super-insulate 600,000 UK homes a year could be funded by recycling Carbon Tax, which over the next 15 years will swell treasury coffers by an average of £4 billion a year. A report by Cambridge Econometrics last year found that this would create more jobs and growth than any alternative investment or tax break the UK could make.
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “Energy-efficiency improvements, unlike major road or rail projects, are not at the mercy of our lengthy planning process before they can get started. The positive impact on jobs and growth is immediate because energy efficient improvements to our homes can be done right away. If the Chancellor prioritises this type of capital investment, he will bring about significant economic gains, providing additional work for the UK’s small local builders, who are the backbone of the construction industry.”