The Labour Party is challenging the govt to ‘Build it in Britain’ and support the creation of 400,000 jobs, including in the ‘crucial’ manufacturing sector, through a green recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
Ahead of this month’s Comprehensive Spending Review, Labour is calling for an economic recovery that will deliver high-skilled jobs in every part of the UK as part of the drive towards a clean economy.
It is also calling for the low-carbon infrastructure of the future to be built in Britain.
Labour says its call follows an extensive consultation with businesses, trade unions and other stakeholders around what a credible green recovery should look like, which received almost 2,000 responses.
The consultation indicated that the govt should recover jobs, retrain workers, and rebuild business by creating a National Investment Bank focused on green investment.
Labour also details a number of areas to support the creation of new jobs and to tackle the climate and environmental crisis.
It advocates planned investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and ensuring the planning system better supports electric vehicle charging. It also calls for expanding energy efficiency and retrofit programmes, including in social housing.
However, corners of the housing industry fear that Labour has missed a trick by not mentioning the tech sector, which has the potential to revolutionise homes for the future.
Franz Doerr, CEO of proptech platform flatfair, said: “Britain hasn’t forgotten Boris Johnson’s pledge to ‘Build, Build, Build’, so the government must now put its money where its mouth is and spearhead the creation of hundreds of thousands of new, Covid-proof jobs.
“Furlough, sadly, is set to serve only as a sticking plaster for many workers who will ultimately find themselves out of a job come the scheme’s end.
“Investing in a wave of green and secure jobs, however, will turbocharge Britain’s post-pandemic recovery — placing all of our eggs in one basket via the Job Retention Scheme will only postpone an inevitable avalanche of unemployment.
“Creating new, sustainable jobs will also stave off a potential crisis in the rental market, ensuring that tenants are able to keep up with their payments while preventing mountains of debt from piling up at the feet of landlords.
“In addition to prioritising careers in manufacturing and construction, the government must also lend its support to the tech sector. Throughout the pandemic, technology has played an integral role in keeping us connected and much more. At flatfair, for instance, we launched Resolve – a free online portal that enables landlords to propose rent arrears repayment plans with tenants who are struggling due to Covid-19. Innovations like Resolve will continue to prove critical to Britain’s recovery, so the government must support those behind them.”
Dave Sheridan, executive chairman at ilke Homes, added: “Labour’s call to bring forward capital investment to retrofit the country’s inefficient housing stock is welcome. British homes account for 20% of the UK’s carbon footprint meaning action is needed now to improve their energy efficiency.
“However, Government must also focus attention on new homes, to prioritise investment that supports the industry to build to a zero carbon standard now, and avoid the costly mistakes of the past by allowing homes to be built that need to be expensively retrofitted with low-carbon technology later down the line.
“This means focusing investment on scaling up technologies to help new-build homes become less carbon emitting. Air source heat pumps (ASHP) that absorb heat from the outside to heat a home and provide hot water, for example, emit 12 times less carbon dioxide that modern gas boilers and will be vital if the UK is to meet net-zero targets by 2050. Other low-carbon technology can also help reduce housing’s reliance on fossil fuel-powered energy, such as solar panels.
“Government investment must be targeted to ensure the supply chains developing and manufacturing these low-carbon technologies have the required production capacity to meet growing demand, and that starts with making sure the skills base exists.”
Andrew Shepherd, managing director at TopHat, added: “Labour’s call to bring forward capital investment to retrofit the country’s inefficient housing stock is welcome.
“We would also urge politicians not to lose sight of the need to ensure that the homes we build today will stand the test of time, and to focus investment on scaling up the skills and supply chains needed to harness innovations in modern methods of construction, which are already delivering some of the most energy efficient homes ever seen.
“Modular housing, which can be delivered more quickly and with greater energy efficiency than traditional homes, will be an essential part of the solution. Investment in skilled manufacturing jobs to deliver low-carbon homes will allow a rebasing of the UK economy away from the pressured south east, delivering an economic benefit to the rest of the UK.”