9 October 2021
Council estimates over £500m is needed to retrofit all social housing, and £1.75 billion for all private homes in Cambridge, to reach net zero standard
Green City Councillors Hannah Copley and Naomi Bennett are urging central government to step up to the plate and fund vital work on Cambridge’s housing.
The Abbey Ward representatives say it is essential that the Treasury finds the cash to help Cambridge City Council and other local authorities hit targets to become carbon neutral. Retrofitting and insulation of all council properties is key to that goal, but the council does not have enough money of its own to complete the work by 2025.
Cllr Bennett, who represents Abbey ward, said: “We need our national government to step up on this and make funding available to local councils as a matter of urgency.
“Only central government has the ability to legislate for better insulation standards on rental properties for private sector landlords, to borrow the funds needed to transform our ageing social housing, and to make grants, loans and incentives available to lower income homeowners.”
The urgent issues were discussed at a meeting of the Cambridge City Council Environment and Scrutiny Committee on October 6, which reviewed progress of its 2021-2026 Climate Change Strategy.
A 2020 study commissioned by the Council concluded it would cost over £500m to reach net zero carbon for its housing stock - £56k-101k per property, depending on the type of house. Even if every penny of city council rent income were allocated to retrofitting and insulation, there would not be enough to convert all social housing before 2025.
Furthermore, social housing accounts for only 15 per cent of the city’s stock. The same report estimated that a further £1.75 billion would be required to create green jobs and retrofit all privately funded homes in Cambridge to a net zero standard.
Work to make houses more energy efficient is essential not only to tackle climate change but also to help ensure everyone can afford to heat their homes properly.
Dr Copley, also a Green city councillor for Abbey ward, said: “Many families are being hit by the government’s regressive Universal Credit cuts and National Insurance tax hikes.
“The government must make funds available to insulate all social housing by 2025 and all remaining housing by 2030.
“Insulating homes - as part of the Green New Deal - would create jobs as well as reducing energy bills. Climate and social justice must go hand in hand.”
The Cambridge Green Party wants the council to empower people to demand more action and the necessary funds from central government.
Cllr Bennett added: “Instead of subsidising airports and fossil fuel industries, government money should be used to directly reduce our impact on the global climate while improving local lives.
“The inequality seen across the UK is nowhere more stark than in Cambridge: many people cannot afford to heat their homes properly, let alone insulate them or install renewable energy sources, even though it would save money in the long term.”
Image: Cllrs Hannah Copley (left) and Naomi Bennett