The Builders Merchants Federation has called on the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, to support a national retrofit strategy that would create 500,000 new jobs across the UK, and help achieve the country’s net zero ambitions by 2050.
The call was made during the BMF’s Annual Parliamentary Reception at the House of Commons, which was attended by over 120 people and had Shadow Construction Minister Bill Esterson MP as a guest speaker.
The event, which took the theme "levelling up towards net zero", enabled BMF members to meet with MPs, and members of the House of Lords to demonstrate the value of the building materials supply chain within the economy.
In particular, the reception focused on the benefits afforded by the Construction Leadership Council’s National Retrofit Strategy, which the BMF has supported since its inception.
Fourteen manufacturers took part in an exhibition of the latest product developments at the Parliamentary Reception, which was hosted by Andrew Lewer, MP for Northampton South, and Chairman of the APPG for SME House-Builders.
BMF CEO John Newcomb said: “Soaring energy bills have focused attention on the need to insulate our homes. The National Retrofit Strategy is a 20-year programme to upgrade 29 million homes to make them warmer, greener and cheaper to run.
“Its success will require long-term cross-party commitment, but it sits well with the Conservative’s Levelling Up agenda, and with Labour’s aim for a fairer, greener future.
“Retrofitting is labour intensive. As well as reducing CO2 emissions and improving our housing stock, a national retrofit programme would promote levelling up by creating 500,000 new and meaningful, local jobs throughout the UK.
“One of our key asks of government is to commit to a properly funded national training plan to boost the number of competent, qualified people to undertake this work. The impact would be especially beneficial in areas where unemployment is high, and there is a large proportion of homes rated EPC Band C or below.
“Our new PM can also help by providing a simple financial incentive, such as a cut in the rate of VAT on retrofit work, to provide the vital kick-start that will unlock business confidence and private investment, and secure consumer support for the programme.
“Modelling shows that if the current Government invested just over £5 billion by the end of this Parliament, it would unlock £11.4 billion in private capital investment over this period, and the programme would more than pay for itself.
“The BMF, along with the whole construction industry, stands ready to work with Rishi Sunak’s government to reduce embodied carbon in our buildings, and to make retrofit a success, thereby contributing to the levelling up agenda and improving living standards in every region of the UK.”