English | Cymraeg Tel: 029 2076 5760 Connect: Twitter

Decarbonisation recommendations accepted in principle by ministers

Welsh Government has accepted in principle all of the recommendations of the independent review the decarbonisation of homes in Wales but called for more work to give greater clarity on the costs involved.

An independent group chaired by Chris Jofeh published its Better Homes, Better Wales, Better World report in July in response to the challenge of achieving net zero carbon by 2050.

It made a wide-ranging series of inter-related recommendations centred on a 30-year programme to reduce carbon emissions from housing. That means not just bringing all new homes up to an Energy Performance Certificate A rating but 1.4m existing homes too. And the report recommended that a retrofit programme should start with bringing 300,000 homes owned by social landlords and privately owned homes in fuel poverty up to EPC A by 2030 with costs estimated at between £500m and £1bn a year.

Housing and local government minister Julie James said in a statement on Tuesday:

‘We must recognise that the Welsh Government has responsibilities in most of the key policy areas covered by the Report. This and successive Governments must do its utmost to make the change needed over the next 30 years. But let’s not pretend it is going to be easy or cheap. There are so many areas of uncertainty.  Three in particular:

  • We still have a long way to go in developing comprehensive technical solutions to decarbonising our current housing stock in order to meet the targets in the Report. We need much better data on existing homes and that will be an early action.
  • We need to build a much better understanding of the total costs of retrofitting.  We are not yet in a position to be able to commit the funds that will be required.  But we doknow it will require commitment and investment from all parts of society including householders. Our Programme will need to reflect that.
  • And thirdly we do not know how fast the national gas and electricity grids are going to decarbonise.  Despite the importance of delivering that change we must ensure that it will be achieved without passing on those costs to families least able to afford them.

We cannot wait until we have all the answers or until we have the resources. I’m not sure anyone has all the answers to climate change at the moment. What we do know is that inaction carries much bigger risks. So despite all the risks and uncertainties I have decided to accept all the recommendations in the Report in principle. This is not because I disagree with the recommendations but reflects continuing uncertainty about the best way to achieve or implement them and the further work required inside and outside government in order that we can be as clear as possible about costs.’

On the recommendation on social rented homes and homes in fuel poverty she said:

‘I entirely understand this aim and support the need to do it but I quickly need to know, what this actually means for homes, the associated costs, the influence of grid decarbonisation, the people who own the homes and very importantly the residents.

‘My officials are already working with social landlords to start the modelling work for social homes. I would expect that to alter the focus of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard after December 2020. I anticipate other benefits too including considering the effectiveness of current approaches in programmes such as Warm Homes, appropriate support mechanisms for “Able to Pay” home owners and the targeting of key policies such as the new Fuel Poverty Strategy.’

She said that many of the decisions would be made in the next Assembly term and she could not tie the hands of her successors but said most Assembly members would understand the need for urgency despite the level of uncertainty.

‘I am, therefore, very pleased to say Chris Jofeh has again agreed to lead the development work with stakeholders, supported by Welsh Government officials. I will be establishing a Green Finance group as recommended in the report to look for innovative finance solutions.  We are making connections with the Fuel Poverty work underway in Lesley Griffiths’ portfolio.  My Department is working with colleagues in Kirsty Williams’ department to address skills needs.  We must build a skilled and trained work force so our SMEs and communities can take advantage of the huge opportunities that will come out of thirty years’ worth of work. This is in line with our work on foundational and circular economy.

‘Energy retrofitting our homes is not just a major opportunity to significantly reduce our carbon emissions and meet our targets but to tackle fuel poverty, improve comfort and quality in homes, create jobs and promote training, supply chains and industries in Welsh communities.’

Sign up to our email newsletter

Every two months we'll email you a summary of the latest news & articles on the WHQ website. Better still, if you're a fully paid up magazine subscriber, you'll get access to the latest members-only articles as well.

Sign up for the email newsletter »

Looking to advertise in our magazine?

Advertising and sponsored features are a great way to raise your profile with our readership of housing and regeneration decision makers in Wales.

Find out more »