Actis agrees with its call for a strategic retrofit programme to be put in place to help improve the country's worst performing homes.

Insulation specialist Actis says a new report published by the Building Research Establishment highlights the importance to health of ensuring homes are properly insulated.

And it agrees with its call for a strategic retrofit programme to be put in place to help improve the country's worst performing homes.

The BRE report - The Cost of Poor Housing by Tenure in England - suggests that tackling illnesses caused by living in a cold home could be costing the NHS £540 million a year.

Actis says the report hammers home the fact that retrofitting homes to improve their energy efficiency is more than a ‘nice to have'. As well as saving a fortune on heating bills and helping the environment, living in a warm home can stave off cold-related illnesses as well as falls, and poor cognitive functioning.

The BRE analysed 2.4 million examples of poor housing across England - in the owner-occupied, private rental and social sectors.

Of these, 700,000 were deemed officially ‘excessively cold', meaning that millions of people across the country could be at risk of ill health as a result of poorly insulated and inadequately heated properties. These were predominantly owner occupied or private rented homes.

Actis UK and Ireland Sales Director, Mark Cooper, said: "The BRE report estimates it will cost more than £6,000 per home on average to improve the most excessively cold properties. Although the Minimum Level of Energy Efficiency for private rented properties, which require a minimum E energy efficiency rating, might only cost landlords £3,500 per home.

"The new £1 billion ECO+ scheme, which comes into force this spring, is targeted at home owners living in certain types of homes - in council tax bands A to D in England, A to E in Scotland and A to C in Wales - and which have EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) ratings of D or lower.

"While this is helpful, home owners are only being offered grants of up to £1,500 - a long way short of the cost the BRE says is required.

"Research shows that more than 12 million homes had EPCs of D or worse in 2020. In fact, we have some of the least energy efficient housing stock in Europe. Installing insulation is the most cost-effective way of stemming the flow of heat escaping from these homes.

"This latest research is yet another important piece of evidence showing that something radical needs to be done to ensure the leaky housing stock with which the UK is blessed is fit for purpose. This is important for the purses of those living there, for the planet, for the health of the nation and now, as this report shows, for the economy."