Companies call for government to invest billions a year on home energy efficiency

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A number of building trade groups have joined forces with fuel poverty campaign groups and environmental NGOs to call on the Government to address a "gaping hole" at the heart of its infrastructure policy and make home energy efficiency a "national infrastructure priority" says
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The 20 organisations, including the Federation of Master Builders, the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) and Greenpeace, have today issued a plea to the Government to put aside £3 billion to £4 billion of capital investment from its £45 billion annual infrastructure spend on retrofitting one million homes a year by 2020. In an open letter to Lord Deighton, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, the coalition sets out the benefits of such a policy, including green jobs and growth and a cut to energy bills of £300 a year.

"National infrastructure priority"
"There’s a gaping hole at the heart of the Government’s plan for infrastructure, and that gaping hole is the energy efficiency of our ageing housing stock," said Paul King, chief executive of the UK-GBC.

"Government has so far failed to recognise the huge opportunities it presents. But it’s not too late. Making home energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority – and offering it significant support alongside transport, energy generation or communications projects – would not only cut households’ rocketing energy bills and help tackle climate change, but would create thousands of new jobs and strengthen the UK’s energy security."

Green jobs and growth
Pointing to the Government's own figures published last year, the open letter suggests retrofitting one million homes a year would double the number of jobs in the energy efficiency sector to 260,000 – with many of those jobs going to local, small to medium-sized enterprises.

"Government spends £45 billion a year on capital infrastructure investment," said King, "our bricks and mortar deserve to be included."

Infrastructure bill
The Government set out details of its new Infrastructure Bill in the Queen's Speech earlier this month. The aim of the bill is to boost Britain's competitiveness by driving investment in key infrastructure projects including roads, rail, energy provision and housing development, including the introduction of a zero carbon standard.

Today's open letter affirms that major investment in energy efficiency would not only boost growth and jobs, but alleviate fuel poverty.

Sophie Neuburg, Friends of the Earth Energy Efficiency campaigner, said: "The UK has some of the most poorly insulated homes in Europe, a major infrastructure project would make ending this scandal a priority."

Green Deal success
The open letter follows news last week that the renovated Green Deal – the Government's national insulation programme – has shown early signs of success with an estimated £2.61 million issued in its first week to households looking to install energy saving measures in their homes.

The 20 signatories to the letter include Aldersgate Group; Association for the Conservation of Energy; BioRegional; Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency; Centre of Refurbishment Excellence; Energy Bill Revolution; Energy Saving Trust; Federation of Master Builders; Forum for the Future; Friends of the Earth; Green Alliance; Greenpeace; National Energy Action; National Energy Foundation; National Housing Federation; National Insulation Association; Sustainable Homes Index For Tomorrow; Sustainable Energy Association; UK Green Building Council; WWF-UK.