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Councillor Bennett: Fuel Poverty and Climate Change

This council calls upon Michael Gove MP to work to end fuel poverty, create new jobs and achieve the UK’s emission targets by adopting the National retrofit strategy set out in the Construction Leadership Council consultative document and in particular to fund the retrofitting of all  council homes and housing association homes by 2025.

 

Background notes on the motions

 

1  Councillors will be well aware that the UK is legally committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and of our own council’s ambitions of achieving that goal by 2030.

2  The Institute for Fiscal Studies (“IFS”) have published two reports in October 2021 that address how this plan might be funded.

3  IFS reports that most UK councils will require substantial additional funding to meet current service levels and statutory obligations.

https://ifs.org.uk/publications/15673

4  This shows that councils have only the most limited scope to fund this work.

5  This is borne out by Cambridge’s own forecasts and accounts.

6  Although the UK does not have a named carbon tax as such, it has had a variety of taxes that have a similar rule for 30 years. The positive impact of these taxes on business and consumer behaviour is well documented and is considered to be one of the principal drivers for the 38% reduction in UK greenhouse emissions between 1990 and 2018.

7  The Office of Budget Responsibility (“OBR”) reports that the tax yield from emissions taxes exceeds new government expenditure on reducing emissions and has actually fallen as a percentage of the total tax yield.

8   There is currently no rule of law that requires “green” taxes to be used for “green” purposes such as the establishment of a National Climate Change Fund.

9   IFS have reviewed the UK’s complex green tax system and have published an advance report timed to coincide with COP 26.

10   The report calls for review and reform as well as international co-operation on aviation and business taxes.

11   It also states that the 5% VAT rate on domestic gas is effectively a subsidy on emissions and a disincentive to energy efficiency improvements.

12   One in 7 UK households lives in acute fuel poverty (BEIS statistics 2019) and fuel bill fears affect a much broader demographic, 

13   While BEIS statistics note the value of insulation incentives in reducing fuel poverty, Green Deal and Green Homes grants were withdrawn in March 2021.

14   Cold homes are responsible for 11,500 of excess deaths every year and treatment for related conditions costs the NHS c £2 billion a year (ONS, CLC)

15   The Construction Leadership Council’s report “Greening our Existing Homes” states that homes use 35% of all UK energy and account for 20% of CO2 emissions. It sets out a detailed National Retrofit Strategy without which the UK emission targets cannot be achieved

16  Emissions taxation policy, fuel poverty and retrofitting existing homes remain inextricably linked. It is for this reason that we have chosen to put two linked motions before the council today. 

 

Further reading  https://ifs.org.uk/publications/15653, https://www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/workstream/net-zero-carbon-workstream/

 

Minutes:

Councillor Bennett proposed and Councillor Copley seconded the following motion.  Consent of council was not granted for Councillor  Bennett to alter motion 6e under Council Procedure Rule 26.

 

This council calls upon Michael Gove MP to work to end fuel poverty, create new jobs and achieve the UK’s emission targets by adopting the National retrofit strategy set out in the Construction Leadership Council consultative document and in particular to fund the retrofitting of all council homes and housing association homes by 2025.

 

Background notes on the motions

 

1  Councillors will be well aware that the UK is legally committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and of our own council’s ambitions of achieving that goal by 2030.

2  The Institute for Fiscal Studies (“IFS”) have published two reports in October 2021 that address how this plan might be funded.

3  IFS reports that most UK councils will require substantial additional funding to meet current service levels and statutory obligations. https://ifs.org.uk/publications/15673

4  This shows that councils have only the most limited scope to fund this work.

5  This is borne out by Cambridge’s own forecasts and accounts.

6  Although the UK does not have a named carbon tax as such, it has had a variety of taxes that have a similar rule for 30 years. The positive impact of these taxes on business and consumer behaviour is well documented and is considered to be one of the principal drivers for the 38% reduction in UK greenhouse emissions between 1990 and 2018.

7  The Office of Budget Responsibility (“OBR”) reports that the tax yield from emissions taxes exceeds new government expenditure on reducing emissions and has actually fallen as a percentage of the total tax yield.

8  There is currently no rule of law that requires “green” taxes to be used for “green” purposes such as the establishment of a National Climate Change Fund.

9  IFS have reviewed the UK’s complex green tax system and have published an advance report timed to coincide with COP 26.

10  The report calls for review and reform as well as international co-operation on aviation and business taxes.

11  It also states that the 5% VAT rate on domestic gas is effectively a subsidy on emissions and a disincentive to energy efficiency improvements.

12  One in 7 UK households lives in acute fuel poverty (BEIS statistics 2019) and fuel bill fears affect a much broader demographic, 

13  While BEIS statistics note the value of insulation incentives in reducing fuel poverty, Green Deal and Green Homes grants were withdrawn in March 2021.

14  Cold homes are responsible for 11,500 of excess deaths every year and treatment for related conditions costs the NHS c £2 billion a year (ONS, CLC)

15  The Construction Leadership Council’s report “Greening our Existing Homes” states that homes use 35% of all UK energy and account for 20% of CO2 emissions. It sets out a detailed National Retrofit Strategy without which the UK emission targets cannot be achieved

16  Emissions taxation policy, fuel poverty and retrofitting existing homes remain inextricably linked. It is for this reason that we have chosen to put two linked motions before the council today. 

 

Further reading  https://ifs.org.uk/publications/15653, https://www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/workstream/net-zero-carbon-workstream/

 

Councillor Moore proposed and Councillor Gilderdale seconded the following amendment to motion: (additional text underlined).

 

This council believes that a socially just and carbon-neutral recovery from the pandemic is not only possible but imperative if we are to meet the vision set out in our Climate Change Strategy 2021. However, up to now much of national Government’s proposed actions are little more than rhetoric. We really need to turn rhetoric into action.

 

Melting ice caps and forest fires can often seem like someone else’s crisis when many are taking effect so far from our homes. But crises closer to home affecting thousands of local families cannot be separated from those further afield.

 

Across the UK there are more than 24 million homes leaking heat, not just wasting the Earth’s precious resources and creating greenhouse gas emissions but also leaving many residents in cold, damp homes and in fuel poverty. There is no route to decarbonising the economy without retrofitting these homes. Doing so would not only help to protect our planet, improve housing and lead to cheaper energy bills but it would also create hundreds of thousands of good quality jobs across the whole country.

 

This council notes that;

 

·  The highest temperature ever recorded in the UK was here in Cambridge, in July 2019 and we know that we are already facing a serious water shortage.

·  Cambridge has approximately 51,240 homes which need to be retrofitted.

·  It is estimated that the average investment needed to fully decarbonise each home in the UK is a minimum of £50k.

·  Therefore, to decarbonise all homes in Cambridge would cost an estimated £2.562 billion.

·  To retrofit all homes in Cambridge by this council’s own Net Zero Carbon vision of 2030 would require 6,405 homes being completed each year.

·  To retrofit all homes in Cambridge by the government’s Net Zero Carbon target of 2050 would require 1,830 homes being completed each year.

·  We have commissioned two high-level retrofit studies to identify what energy efficiency and renewable energy measures would need to be installed for different property archetypes in Cambridge to reach net zero carbon emissions and to provide more accurate costings for retrofitting both council and private homes.

·  Over the period of the Council’s previous climate change strategies, we have invested £4.3 million in energy efficiency improvements to Council homes, focussing on bringing the lowest rated properties up to an EPC rating of C.

·  From 2020/21 to 2022/23, we have committed to investing a further £2.5 million to improve the energy efficiency of some of the remaining Council homes with EPC ratings of D to G, with the aim of bringing these up to a C rating or above where feasible.

·  In February 2021 the Council was successful in its consortium bid with other Cambridgeshire local authorities to the Government’s Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery (LAD) scheme and was awarded just over £2m to retrofit social and private housing.

·  As part of a Cambridgeshire local authority consortium, the council has recently submitted a further £5.5m bid into the Sustainable Warmth Scheme, which is scheduled to be implemented between January 2022 and March 2023 if successful.

·  The latest fuel poverty data for 2019 states 14.9% of Cambridge residents are experiencing fuel poverty. Energy efficiency also helps to reduce the impact of increasing energy prices and volatile energy markets.

·  Cambridge City Council is currently working with PECT with the Warm Homes scheme to provide support to those experiencing fuel poverty.

·  The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) regulation for the private rented sector restricts poor energy performing properties being available to rent. Cambridge City Council is implementing this regulation to improve the energy efficiency of the Cambridge rental sector.

·  We have established a working group to plan how we will retrofit our own council housing stock and how best we can support private homeowners and landlords to retrofit theirs.

·  Our project for Building Control to give homeowners energy saving advice using thermal imaging will launch at the end of this year.

 

 

The Great Homes Upgrade calls on the government to offer long term support to local authorities so we can help improve our residents' lives and homes, create thousands of high-quality jobs and decarbonise our housing stock in the face of climate change. 

 

 

This council commits to;

 

·  Join the “Great Homes Upgrade” campaign and for the leader to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Sec of State DLUHC asking for an additional £11.7bn for retrofitting over the next three years as part of the government’s spending review in 2021.

·  The leader will write toThis council calls upon Michael Gove MP asking him to work to end fuel poverty, create new green jobs and achieve the UK’s emission targets by adopting the National retrofit strategy set out in the Construction Leadership Council consultative document and in particular to fund the retrofitting of all council homes and housing association homes by 2025.

·  Widen the scope of our working group to include working with housing associations, private landlords and owner occupiers to help access investment and to build the skills and expertise necessary to reach our Climate Change Strategy aspirations. 

·  Work with local partners, including the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority (who lead on skills strategy), the Greater Cambridge Partnership, local councils, businesses and education providers to create the skilled workforce that we need.

·  Share best practice and stories of retrofit success with the campaign.

·  Write to neighbouring Local Authorities asking them to join the campaign.

·  Sign and circulate the Great Homes Upgrade petition.

 

Background notes on the motions

 

1.  Councillors will be well aware that the UK is legally committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and of our own council’s ambitions of achieving that goal by 2030.

2.  The Institute for Fiscal Studies (“IFS”) have published two reports in October 2021 that address how this plan might be funded.

3.  IFS reports that most UK councils will require substantial additional funding to meet current service levels and statutory obligations. https://ifs.org.uk/publications/15673

4.  This shows that councils have only the most limited scope to fund this work.

5.  This is borne out by Cambridge’s own forecasts and accounts.

6.  Although the UK does not have a named carbon tax as such, it has had a variety of taxes that have a similar rule for 30 years. The positive impact of these taxes on business and consumer behaviour is well documented and is considered to be one of the principal drivers for the 38% reduction in UK greenhouse emissions between 1990 and 2018.

7.  The Office of Budget Responsibility (“OBR”) reports that the tax yield from emissions taxes exceeds new government expenditure on reducing emissions and has actually fallen as a percentage of the total tax yield.

8.  There is currently no rule of law that requires “green” taxes to be used for “green” purposes such as the establishment of a National Climate Change Fund.

9.  IFS have reviewed the UK’s complex green tax system and have published an advance report timed to coincide with COP 26.

10.  The report calls for review and reform as well as international co-operation on aviation and business taxes.

11.  It also states that the 5% VAT rate on domestic gas is effectively a subsidy on emissions and a disincentive to energy efficiency improvements.

12.  One in 7 UK households lives in acute fuel poverty (BEIS statistics 2019) and fuel bill fears affect a much broader demographic, 

13.  While BEIS statistics note the value of insulation incentives in reducing fuel poverty, Green Deal and Green Homes grants were withdrawn in March 2021.

14.  Cold homes are responsible for 11,500 of excess deaths every year and treatment for related conditions costs the NHS c £2 billion a year (ONS, CLC)

15.  The Construction Leadership Council’s report “Greening our Existing Homes” states that homes use 35% of all UK energy and account for 20% of CO2 emissions. It sets out a detailed National Retrofit Strategy without which the UK emission targets cannot be achieved

16.  Emissions taxation policy, fuel poverty and retrofitting existing homes remain inextricably linked. It is for this reason that we have chosen to put two linked motions before the council today. 

 

Further reading  https://ifs.org.uk/publications/15653, https://www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/workstream/net-zero-carbon-workstream/

 

On a show of hands the amendment was carried by 25 votes to 0.

 

Under Council Procedure Rule 23.4, the Mayor permitted Councillor Dalzell to move his amendment to motion 6g in this debate. Councillor Dalzell proposed and Councillor Gehring seconded the following amendment to motion (additional text underlined).

 

This council believes that a socially just and carbon-neutral recovery from the pandemic is not only possible but imperative if we are to meet the vision set out in our Climate Change Strategy 2021. However, up to now much of national Government’s proposed actions are little more than rhetoric. We really need to turn rhetoric into action.

 

Melting ice caps and forest fires can often seem like someone else’s crisis when many are taking effect so far from our homes. But crises closer to home affecting thousands of local families cannot be separated from those further afield.

 

Across the UK there are more than 24 million homes leaking heat, not just wasting the Earth’s precious resources and creating greenhouse gas emissions but also leaving many residents in cold, damp homes and in fuel poverty. There is no route to decarbonising the economy without retrofitting these homes. Doing so would not only help to protect our planet, improve housing and lead to cheaper energy bills but it would also create hundreds of thousands of good quality jobs across the whole country.

 

This council notes that;

 

·  The highest temperature ever recorded in the UK was here in Cambridge, in July 2019 and we know that we are already facing a serious water shortage.

·  Cambridge has approximately 51,240 homes which need to be retrofitted.

·  It is estimated that the average investment needed to fully decarbonise each home in the UK is a minimum of £50k.

·  Therefore, to decarbonise all homes in Cambridge would cost an estimated £2.562 billion.

·  To retrofit all homes in Cambridge by this council’s own Net Zero Carbon vision of 2030 would require 6,405 homes being completed each year.

·  To retrofit all homes in Cambridge by the government’s Net Zero Carbon target of 2050 would require 1,830 homes being completed each year.

·  We have commissioned two high-level retrofit studies to identify what energy efficiency and renewable energy measures would need to be installed for different property archetypes in Cambridge to reach net zero carbon emissions and to provide more accurate costings for retrofitting both council and private homes.

·  Over the period of the Council’s previous climate change strategies, we have invested £4.3 million in energy efficiency improvements to Council homes, focussing on bringing the lowest rated properties up to an EPC rating of C.

·  From 2020/21 to 2022/23, we have committed to investing a further £2.5 million to improve the energy efficiency of some of the remaining Council homes with EPC ratings of D to G, with the aim of bringing these up to a C rating or above where feasible.

·  In February 2021 the Council was successful in its consortium bid with other Cambridgeshire local authorities to the Government’s Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery (LAD) scheme and was awarded just over £2m to retrofit social and private housing.

·  The premature closure of the Government’s Green Homes Grant programme in March 2021 due to a lack of uptake, which has been subsequently blamed by the Business Minister on “challenging timelines” and a failure to run local pilots.

·  The new Government ‘Heat and buildings strategy’, which seeks to introduce Home Upgrade Grants, but appears to provide insufficient policies and investments to decarbonise the UK in line with the Paris Accord.

·  As part of a Cambridgeshire local authority consortium, the council has recently submitted a further £5.5m bid into the Sustainable Warmth Scheme, which is scheduled to be implemented between January 2022 and March 2023 if successful.

·  The latest fuel poverty data for 2019 states 14.9% of Cambridge residents are experiencing fuel poverty. Energy efficiency also helps to reduce the impact of increasing energy prices and volatile energy markets.

·  Cambridge City Council is currently working with PECT with the Warm Homes scheme to provide support to those experiencing fuel poverty.

·  The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) regulation for the private rented sector restricts poor energy performing properties being available to rent. Cambridge City Council is implementing this regulation to improve the energy efficiency of the Cambridge rental sector.

·  We have established a working group to plan how we will retrofit our own council housing stock and how best we can support private homeowners and landlords to retrofit theirs.

·  Our project for Building Control to give homeowners energy saving advice using thermal imaging will launch at the end of this year.

 

The Great Homes Upgrade calls on the government to offer long term support to local authorities so we can help improve our residents' lives and homes, create thousands of high-quality jobs and decarbonise our housing stock in the face of climate change.

 

This council commits to;

·  Join the “Great Homes Upgrade” campaign and for the leader to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Sec of State DLUHC asking for an additional £11.7bn for retrofitting over the next three years as part of the government’s spending review in 2021.

·  Include in this letter an offer to host pilot schemes in Cambridge to help develop nationwide insulation programmes and to help avoid further failures like the Green House Grant scheme.

·  To put forward a clear deadline for getting all Council homes to an EPC standard of C or above in next HRA Budget Setting Report.

·  Widen the scope of our working group to include working with housing associations, private landlords and owner occupiers to help access investment and to build the skills and expertise necessary to reach our Climate Change Strategy aspirations.

·  Work with local partners, including the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority (who lead on skills strategy), the Greater Cambridge Partnership, local councils, businesses and education providers to create the skilled workforce that we need.

·  Actively support homeowners to identify and apply for Home Upgrade Grants, and any other government grants that become available, and promote such grant schemes more widely on our website, social media and in Cambridge Matters. 

·  Share best practice and stories of retrofit success with the campaign.

·  Write to neighbouring Local Authorities asking them to join the campaign.

·  Sign and circulate the Great Homes Upgrade petition.

 

On a show of hands the amendment was lost by 14 votes to 22.

 

Resolved (by 35 votes to 1) that:

 

This council believes that a socially just and carbon-neutral recovery from the pandemic is not only possible but imperative if we are to meet the vision set out in our Climate Change Strategy 2021. However, up to now much of national Government’s proposed actions are little more than rhetoric. We really need to turn rhetoric into action.

 

Melting ice caps and forest fires can often seem like someone else’s crisis when many are taking effect so far from our homes. But crises closer to home affecting thousands of local families cannot be separated from those further afield.

 

Across the UK there are more than 24 million homes leaking heat, not just wasting the Earth’s precious resources and creating greenhouse gas emissions but also leaving many residents in cold, damp homes and in fuel poverty. There is no route to decarbonising the economy without retrofitting these homes. Doing so would not only help to protect our planet, improve housing and lead to cheaper energy bills but it would also create hundreds of thousands of good quality jobs across the whole country.

 

This council notes that;

 

·  The highest temperature ever recorded in the UK was here in Cambridge, in July 2019 and we know that we are already facing a serious water shortage.

·  Cambridge has approximately 51,240 homes which need to be retrofitted.

·  It is estimated that the average investment needed to fully decarbonise each home in the UK is a minimum of £50k.

·  Therefore, to decarbonise all homes in Cambridge would cost an estimated £2.562 billion.

·  To retrofit all homes in Cambridge by this council’s own Net Zero Carbon vision of 2030 would require 6,405 homes being completed each year.

·  To retrofit all homes in Cambridge by the government’s Net Zero Carbon target of 2050 would require 1,830 homes being completed each year.

·  We have commissioned two high-level retrofit studies to identify what energy efficiency and renewable energy measures would need to be installed for different property archetypes in Cambridge to reach net zero carbon emissions and to provide more accurate costings for retrofitting both council and private homes.

·  Over the period of the Council’s previous climate change strategies, we have invested £4.3 million in energy efficiency improvements to Council homes, focussing on bringing the lowest rated properties up to an EPC rating of C.

·  From 2020/21 to 2022/23, we have committed to investing a further £2.5 million to improve the energy efficiency of some of the remaining Council homes with EPC ratings of D to G, with the aim of bringing these up to a C rating or above where feasible.

·  In February 2021 the Council was successful in its consortium bid with other Cambridgeshire local authorities to the Government’s Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery (LAD) scheme and was awarded just over £2m to retrofit social and private housing.

·  As part of a Cambridgeshire local authority consortium, the council has recently submitted a further £5.5m bid into the Sustainable Warmth Scheme, which is scheduled to be implemented between January 2022 and March 2023 if successful.

·  The latest fuel poverty data for 2019 states 14.9% of Cambridge residents are experiencing fuel poverty. Energy efficiency also helps to reduce the impact of increasing energy prices and volatile energy markets.

·  Cambridge City Council is currently working with PECT with the Warm Homes scheme to provide support to those experiencing fuel poverty.

·  The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) regulation for the private rented sector restricts poor energy performing properties being available to rent. Cambridge City Council is implementing this regulation to improve the energy efficiency of the Cambridge rental sector.

·  We have established a working group to plan how we will retrofit our own council housing stock and how best we can support private homeowners and landlords to retrofit theirs.

·  Our project for Building Control to give homeowners energy saving advice using thermal imaging will launch at the end of this year.

 

The Great Homes Upgrade calls on the government to offer long term support to local authorities so we can help improve our residents' lives and homes, create thousands of high-quality jobs and decarbonise our housing stock in the face of climate change. 

 

This council commits to;

 

·  Join the “Great Homes Upgrade” campaign and for the leader to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Sec of State DLUHC asking for an additional £11.7bn for retrofitting over the next three years as part of the government’s spending review in 2021.

·  The leader will write to Michael Gove MP asking him to work to end fuel poverty, create new green jobs and achieve the UK’s emission targets by adopting the National retrofit strategy set out in the Construction Leadership Council consultative document and in particular to fund the retrofitting of all council homes and housing association homes by 2025.

·  Widen the scope of our working group to include working with housing associations, private landlords and owner occupiers to help access investment and to build the skills and expertise necessary to reach our Climate Change Strategy aspirations. 

·  Work with local partners, including the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority (who lead on skills strategy), the Greater Cambridge Partnership, local councils, businesses and education providers to create the skilled workforce that we need.

·  Share best practice and stories of retrofit success with the campaign.

·  Write to neighbouring Local Authorities asking them to join the campaign.

·  Sign and circulate the Great Homes Upgrade petition.

 

Background notes on the motions

 

1.  Councillors will be well aware that the UK is legally committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and of our own council’s ambitions of achieving that goal by 2030.

2.  The Institute for Fiscal Studies (“IFS”) have published two reports in October 2021 that address how this plan might be funded.

3.  IFS reports that most UK councils will require substantial additional funding to meet current service levels and statutory obligations. https://ifs.org.uk/publications/15673

4.  This shows that councils have only the most limited scope to fund this work.

5.  This is borne out by Cambridge’s own forecasts and accounts.

6.  Although the UK does not have a named carbon tax as such, it has had a variety of taxes that have a similar rule for 30 years. The positive impact of these taxes on business and consumer behaviour is well documented and is considered to be one of the principal drivers for the 38% reduction in UK greenhouse emissions between 1990 and 2018.

7.  The Office of Budget Responsibility (“OBR”) reports that the tax yield from emissions taxes exceeds new government expenditure on reducing emissions and has actually fallen as a percentage of the total tax yield.

8.  There is currently no rule of law that requires “green” taxes to be used for “green” purposes such as the establishment of a National Climate Change Fund.

9.  IFS have reviewed the UK’s complex green tax system and have published an advance report timed to coincide with COP 26.

10.  The report calls for review and reform as well as international co-operation on aviation and business taxes.

11.  It also states that the 5% VAT rate on domestic gas is effectively a subsidy on emissions and a disincentive to energy efficiency improvements.

12.  One in 7 UK households lives in acute fuel poverty (BEIS statistics 2019) and fuel bill fears affect a much broader demographic, 

13.  While BEIS statistics note the value of insulation incentives in reducing fuel poverty, Green Deal and Green Homes grants were withdrawn in March 2021.

14.  Cold homes are responsible for 11,500 of excess deaths every year and treatment for related conditions costs the NHS c £2 billion a year (ONS, CLC)

15.  The Construction Leadership Council’s report “Greening our Existing Homes” states that homes use 35% of all UK energy and account for 20% of CO2 emissions. It sets out a detailed National Retrofit Strategy without which the UK emission targets cannot be achieved

16.  Emissions taxation policy, fuel poverty and retrofitting existing homes remain inextricably linked. It is for this reason that we have chosen to put two linked motions before the council today. 

 

Further reading  https://ifs.org.uk/publications/15653, https://www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/workstream/net-zero-carbon-workstream/