While many sections of the property industry welcome the change of tone in Rishi Sunak’s approach to green issues, one group of activists is less impressed.
Dan Wilson Craw, deputy chief executive of Generation Rent, says: “Cancelling higher standards for rented homes is a colossal error by the government. Leaving the impact on the climate to one side, it makes the cost of living crisis worse and damages renters' health.
"One in four private renters lives in fuel poverty and, without targets for landlords to improve their properties, they face many more years of unaffordable bills.”
Sunak last evening confirmed that, amongst other things, landlords will no longer have improved EPC ratings to meet, while the Boiler Upgrade Grant scheme by give larger grants of £7,500 to help households who want to replace their gas boilers with a low-carbon alternative like a heat pump.
Wilson Craw goes on: “Energy efficiency is also an essential part of a home's quality. Backtracking leaves the government's levelling up mission to halve the number of non-decent rented homes in shreds. It also undermines ministers' promises to tackle the scourge of mould-ridden homes that killed Awaab Ishak.
"Both tenants and landlords need support to upgrade private rented homes, and the Prime Minister recognised that 'big government grants' help make it affordable.
“But without higher standards, landlords have no reason to accept tenants' requests for improvements.
"The government's dithering over these standards in recent years has led to the housing sector being unprepared for the original 2025 deadline. Ditching it completely is both cruel and out of proportion to what the Prime Minister wants to achieve.”
Under revised plans, the Government will:
- Scrap policies to force landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties, but instead continue to encourage households to do so where they can;
- Raise the Boiler Upgrade Grant by 50% to £7,500 to help households who want to replace their gas boilers with a low-carbon alternative like a heat pump;
- Delay the ban on installing oil and LPG boilers, and new coal heating, for off-gas-grid homes to 2035, instead of phasing them out from 2026. Many of these homes are not suitable for heat pumps, so this ensures homeowners are not having to spend around £10-15,000 on upgrading their homes in just three years’ time.
- Set an exemption to the phase out of fossil fuel boilers, including gas, in 2035, so that households who will most struggle to make the switch to heat pumps or other low-carbon alternatives won’t have to do so. This is expected to cover about a fifth of homes, including off-gas-grid homes - those that will need expensive retrofitting or a very large electricity connection.
- Rule out policy ideas that would require people to share cars, eat less meat and dairy, be taxed to discourage their flying, or have seven bins to hit recycling targets – removing worrying proposals that would interfere in the way people live their lives.
- Move back the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by five years, so all sales of new cars from 2035 will be zero emission. This will enable families to wait to take advantage of falling prices over the coming decade if they wish to.
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