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Green housing jobs face Tory wrecking ball

Cuts to scheme will demolish promise of 100,000 new roles, TUC warns

by Matt Trinder

Industrial reporter

CUTTING hundreds of millions of pounds from the government’s green homes scheme will take “a wrecking ball” to jobs, the TUC has warned today.

Funding for the Green Homes Grant, which provides funding for the retrofitting of homes to make them more environmentally friendly, is set to be slashed from £1.5 billion to just £320 million — putting 100,000 promised jobs in doubt.

The flagship policy, announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak as part of his so-called Plan for Jobs in July 2020, had been promoted by PM Boris Johnson as a key part of his “10-point plan for a green industrial revolution.”

The green homes scheme already suffers from a slow approval rate. But the cuts mean that only about 20 per cent of its target of 600,000 improved households will be met by March next year.

TUC analysis released today finds that 14,500 jobs have been created by the scheme to date, but that more than half of these (8,500) could now be lost to the cuts.

General secretary Frances O’Grady said the Chancellor “must take the opportunity to reverse this damaging decision” when he delivers his Budget on Wednesday.

“This funding cut will be a wrecking ball to green jobs,” she said.

“The Green Homes Grant was supposed to create jobs, not cost them. By pulling the funding, the government has shown it isn’t serious about ‘building back better.’

“A proper green jobs drive could stop mass unemployment, help power our economic recovery and tackle climate change.”

As well as reversing the cuts, she urged him to “drive our recovery forward with a powerful green stimulus that creates millions more good secure jobs.”

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said Britain has “some of the poorest housing stock in western Europe and fuel poverty is rampant.”

“The need for a comprehensive housing renovation programme – with the green agenda at its heart – is desperately required,” she added.

The scheme is incredibly popular with homeowners keen to reduce energy costs and contribute to tackling climate change, the National Insulation Association said last week.

Chairman Derek Horrocks said: “Enquiries for insulation and low-carbon heating have been extremely high in spite of the current circumstances.

“That’s why we would urge the Chancellor not to curtail the grants.”

And a spokesperson for Labour for a Green New Deal said: “Insulating homes is vital for meeting the UK’s decarbonation targets. That’s why we’re calling for Labour to bring back their Warm Homes for All pledge, and show how climate and class justice must go together.”

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has blamed the coronavirus pandemic for the scheme’s lack of progress.

“The Green Homes Grant scheme was designed to provide a short-term economic stimulus while tackling our contribution to climate change,” it has claimed.

The government’s Green Jobs Taskforce has promised to deliver two million jobs in the next 10 years as part of the government’s push to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Trade unionists have said that the plans lack ambition, and last June the TUC set out its own plans to create 1.24 million green jobs by 2022.

These would come through plans to create and improve social housing, invest in high-speed broadband, develop modern transport links and develop decarbonising technology in manufacturing.

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