Ambitious scheme to insulate the Region’s 428,000 homes has potential to support the transition to net zero and economic recovery, creating thousands of new local jobs

Stock photograph of Glasgow tenement flats

Proposals underway for an ambitious Housing Energy Retrofit programme, part of Glasgow City Region’s response to Covid-19, could create thousands of new local jobs, improve the quality of housing, reduce fuel poverty and deliver on Scotland and the UK’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions.

At today’s Glasgow City Region Cabinet, findings from an independent study commissioned by the Region were discussed and a series of actions agreed.

The study highlighted that to meet net zero targets committed by government, retrofitting the Region’s 428,000 least energy efficient homes is a necessity. 

A programme of this scale and type would offer extensive economic and environmental benefits but would require substantial funding. Not only would it decarbonise and insulate domestic properties, helping to reduce fuel poverty, it would also create thousands of new local jobs and support the growth of Regional businesses involved in delivery of the scheme.

The report, submitted to the Cabinet, indicated that significant work would be required to ensure that the local companies are able to support the delivery of the scheme and that we have a trained workforce in place able to take advantage of the new jobs.

Councillor Susan Aitken, Chair of the Glasgow City Region Cabinet and Leader of Glasgow City Council said:

“Glasgow City Region is one of the most affordable and attractive places to live in the UK. To support our net zero ambitions and the needs of existing residents, we are taking forward a series of actions including proposals for a Regional Home Energy Retrofit scheme.

“The study shows the sheer scale and complexity of the challenge and the funding required. But with COP26 on the horizon, we are determined to work in partnership with government to significantly increase the number of homes that are insulated and given low carbon heating systems.”

Of the Region’s 886,156 domestic properties, 428,000 are below the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) C standard and identified as requiring to be retrofitted. Owner occupiers make up 71% and private landlords 12% of this figure.  

Working with owner occupiers is considered one of the most significant risks to delivery.  Overcoming the range of barriers to upscaling retrofit with owner occupiers will require a comprehensive framework of incentives and / or regulation in place. 

Glasgow City Region Portfolio holder for Housing and Leader of West Dunbartonshire Council, Councillor Jonathan McColl said:

“Retrofitting our homes to make then more energy efficient offers us both a challenge and an opportunity.  We want to maximise the benefits that come into Glasgow City Region to create and sustain local jobs while also making a vital contribution towards achieving net zero carbon. 

“As we progress our retrofit plans, we will focus on how best to support local businesses to benefit from retrofit and we will work with Skills Development Scotland and local colleges to ensure that training opportunities are available to our residents.” 

The Glasgow City Region Cabinet agreed a number of key actions including work to explore with the Scottish Government how current retrofit funding could be realigned to better incentivise local manufacturers to accelerate and invest resource in scaling up their operations and capacity. 

Work will also be taken forward to understand the local supply chain provision, and how this could be boosted, both in terms of skills and manufacturing capacity – so that local businesses are geared up both to deliver and to make the most of the upcoming opportunity.

A copy of the Cabinet report is available here

Key highlights from the report include:

  • To meet the committed government (Scottish and UK government) net zero targets, requires a substantial government funding commitment. The projected cost of bringing homes across the Region to Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) C and above is estimated to be in the region of £10.7 billion, with up to £600 million investment per annum required for a 15-year period.
  • A programme of this scale could transform the Region from the impacts of Covid and create thousands of new jobs of all types – from apprenticeships and entry level, through to construction and blue collar.
  • While local businesses could massively benefit from opportunities to deliver the scheme in areas such as labour supply, fitting and manufacturing, current funding arrangements for retrofit activities streams do not give businesses the long-term confidence of a multi-year pipeline of work that will encourage the acceleration and expansion of business investment in the skills of their staff and manufacturing capability.
  • To meet an increased demand for retrofit, businesses will require qualified staff to deliver the work.  While much of this training will be delivered by industry, it is clear public sector intervention is required.

Actions agreed by Glasgow City Region (GCR):

  • The Region will work with Scottish Enterprise to map the existing Regional supply chain and the capability to manufacture retrofit related materials and products locally. This will identify steps that should then be taken to scale up the local installation and manufacturing capability and capacity.
  • GCR will explore with the Scottish Government whether current funding for retrofit work could be realigned to give companies the confidence of a long-term pipeline of opportunity. 
  • Work will progress with the Scottish Government to explore how an increased multi-year funding programme for Registered Social Landlords and local authority housing stock can be delivered. This would allow work to progress with the local supply chain to improve capacity and invest more in training new employees and reskilling existing workers to deliver retrofit. The initial focus of activity would be on retrofit of local authority and RSLs.  Social Housing is 17% and over 72,000 homes within the total of 428,000 below EPC C. 
  • In partnership with Skills Development Scotland, Glasgow City Region will explore how we can ramp up skills provision to meet the requirements of a substantially funded pipeline of retrofit work. Examples from elsewhere, including Greater Manchester, show where skills projects have been established to focus on reskilling that existing members of the workforce, and training new entrants for retrofit work.