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The official website of the

West Oxfordshire branch

of the

Green Party of England and Wales.

 

 

Serving members, supporters and citizens in the towns and villages around West Oxfordshire, including the following wards:

 

  • Alvescot and Filkins
  • Ascott and Shipton
  • Bampton and Clanfield
  • Brize Norton and Shilton
  • Burford
  • Carterton North West
  • Carterton South  
  • Chadlington and Churchill
  • Charlbury and Finstock
  • Chipping Norton
  • Ducklington
  • Eynsham and Cassington
  • Freeland and Hanborough
  • Hailey, Minster Lovell and Leafield
  • Kingham, Rollright and Enstone
  • Milton under Wychwood
  • North Leigh
  • Standlake, Aston and Stanton Harcourt
  • Stonesfield and Tackley
  • The Bartons
  • Witney Central
  • Witney East
  • Witney North
  • Witney South
  • Witney West
  • Woodstock and Bladon

 

 

 

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Green Homes are a critical part of making the UK a net zero carbon emission nation.

Not only must new housing be built to much higher energy efficiency standards and incorporate the most effective energy systems, but a much greater emphasis needs to be placed on retrofitting the existing housing stock so homes can be more energy efficient, more comfortable and contribute less carbon emissions. 

 

Refurbishing existing homes - by retrofitting to improve energy efficiency - not only reduces carbon emissions, but saves money and makes homes more comfortable, warm and healthy. The process itself could create over 800,000 new Green Jobs (directly and indirectly)[i].

Green Warm Homes for All

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT RETROFIT? 

 

We have made a handout on the story so far. We hope you find it useful.

 

Retrofit - The story so far

Though the government launched a programme of “Green Homes” to address this specific issue, it was ill-conceived, and we now learn that it was badly managed either by the Government or the large American consulting firm who - despite their apparent “lack of expert knowledge” - won the contract to run the scheme[iv].  As a result, many small and medium British firms have been owed money by the Government since autumn 2020 and are now unable to continue work on similar projects. The programme is stumbling to a halt.

At the end of January 2021, almost 100 people registered for an online event[ii] organised by West Oxfordshire Green Party[iii] looking at how retrofitting of homes could help achieve national zero emissions targets, make our homes more comfortable and at the same time create new “Green Jobs”.

 

The event featured local expert speakers from the Green Party, Cosy Homes Oxfordshire and the University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute.

 

If you would like to see the slides given at the event or watch the speaker, visit our past presentations page.

 

The West Oxfordshire Green Party Public meeting that was held in January highlighted some of the key areas that need to be tackled if the UK is really going to address the issue of energy efficiency in existing housing stock.

 

 

When asked about the scheme, Andrew Prosser, Witney Town Councillor said: “Not surprising, but dreadful performance against the £1.5bn promised to help 600,000 homes make energy-saving home improvements to end of March 2021. What is more, the Government has only promised extra £320m of funding until March 2022. Suddenly £1bn of crucial funding has disappeared.”

 

The tragedy of Grenfell Tower (itself still masked from the public eye by scaffolding) was a prime example of retrofitting gone wrong. All the mistakes that have been identified in the ensuing enquiries still need to be addressed if retrofitting of the UK’s existing housing stock is going to be a success. Issues identified in the West Oxfordshire Green Party event included weakened building standards, lack of investment in building regulations enforcement, lack of clear demarcation of responsibilities and a race to the bottom by some suppliers as far as quality and price were concerned. The need for a fully trained, skilled and qualified workforce and professionally accredited businesses who are appointed for quality rather than quantity was seen as paramount.

 

Gavin Killip of the University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute said:

The debates about housing in the UK are too narrowly focused on quantity - how many homes can be built or renovated per year. But it's not just about quantity - quality is really important too.

Breaking the vicious circle of weakened regulations and enforcement processes - which are being taken advantage of by a few businesses exploiting the weaknesses for the sake of profit - is a matter that only the Government can address.

 

Witney North Councillor Andrew Prosser said:

 

There is no way that the UK can achieve its “net zero” targets without making the present housing stock more energy efficient, and there is no way that the housing stock can be upgraded and maintained without a fully trained local workforce and independent quality assurance.

 

Launching a programme like Green Homes without tackling the skills shortage is a definite case of putting the cart before the horse. In the Green Party we want to work with local colleges and businesses to make sure we have the highly skilled people to fill these new green jobs.”

Councillor Andrew Prosser
Councillor Liz Reason

We all need to find ways of putting pressure on every level of government to achieve net zero emissions. The UK will never achieve net zero until the home retrofit conundrum has been solved.

 

Charlbury Councillor Liz Reason said “We need a National Retrofit Strategy that works – it’s not rocket science – it just means having joined-up thinking! Sort out and enforce the regulations (no more self-regulation), train the skilled professionals, encourage the homeowners and concentrate on quality.  It’s a win, win, win scenario – “Net Zero, Warm Homes and Green Jobs[v].

 

We know this can’t be done all at once – but the earlier we start the sooner it will be resolved. So while a real strategy is being put in place, let’s encourage all home improvements to incorporate energy efficiency. 

 

The country presently spends £25 to £30 billion each year on home improvements and repairs - it would be more efficient for the government to incentivise homeowners to make their repairs or improvements incorporate good quality energy efficiency measures. 

 

The Green Party is calling for VAT on energy efficiency retrofits to be slashed to 0% – which would have been difficult while the UK was within the EU – and raise VAT on non-Passivhaus[vi] new-build construction to 20%. The Green Party’s finance spokesperson Molly Scott Cato has started a public petition to parliament to get support for the idea.[vii]

 

Build Back Better Build Back Green

Molly said: ‘We need to use tax strategically to make sure that the cheapest and easiest thing to do is also the greenest. The current VAT regime sets up the incentive in the opposite direction.

 

‘For decades the Treasury have failed to take this action, often blaming the EU for tying their hands. Now that that excuse is no longer available I hope we’ll see urgent action to tilt the playing field in favour of retrofit.’

 

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD - SIGN MOLLY'S PETITON TODAY

 

In addition at the end of February Green MP Caroline Lucas sponsored an Early Day Motion (EDM) calling on the Government to completely revise the Green Homes Grants Scheme, to work with stakeholders to improve the scheme, and commit to a Green Jobs Guarantee including long-term funding for an ambitious multi-year investment in home retrofits. The EDM also urges the Government to reverse the current tax incentive which operates in favour of new build and against retrofit[viii].

 

[i] https://www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/CLC-National-Retrofit-Strategy-final-for-consultation.pdf

[ii] https://www.westoxon-greens.uk/presentations.html

[iii] https://www.westoxon-greens.uk/

[iv] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/28/green-homes-grant-uk-standards-body-calls-on-government-to-pay-up

[v] https://www.westoxon-greens.uk/presentations.html

[vi] Passivhaus is a voluntary standard for energy efficiency in a building, which reduces the building's ecological footprint. https://passivhaustrust.org.uk/UserFiles/File/PH%20planning/Green%20Party%20PassivHaus%20Flat%20Pack_v7.pdf

[vii] Petition to Parliament  https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/573207

[viii] https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/58152

 

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