Report authors Marcus Johns and Sarah Longlands said now is a great time for retrofitting as the government seeks to boost the economy and tackle regional inequalities set to worsen in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Introducing the report, the authors wrote: “Poor housing (the worst in Europe) combined with low incomes and rising unemployment have left many people with a bleak future.
“A new ambitious programme of decarbonising the North’s housing, starting with social housing providers, could help restart the recovery and provide a much needed plan for a specific economic intervention that contributes to the government's much-discussed agenda of levelling up.”
The retrofitting of northern homes is part of an effort to meet the UK’s commitments in the Paris Agreement, and part of chancellor Rishi Sunak’s promised “green recovery” from the coronavirus pandemic.
It presents employers and their HR teams with the opportunity to target certain areas for job creation.
Speaking to HR magazine, Marcus Johns, research fellow at IPPR North, said: “Large-scale job creation is a crucial outcome of decarbonising the North’s housing, providing for an economic stimulus as well as cutting our emissions.
“These high-quality, high-skilled jobs cut across trades involved directly like joining, plumbing, and civil engineering, alongside trades in the supply chain including manufacturing heating systems.”
He said that he believes: “In the midst of COVID-19 and looking at the scale of the climate crisis ahead, the government needs to invest in greener, warmer, healthier homes and supporting the hundreds of thousands of jobs that are needed to deliver them".
To achieve retrofitting and the benefits it will bring, and to ensure that housing plays its part in meeting the UK’s emissions reduction commitments, IPPR North has called for the rapid retrofit of all social housing within a decade- 1.27 million homes in the North.
IPPR reported that this would ‘pump-prime’ the economy for a larger decarbonisation programme and would require an investment of £2.36 billion a year over this decade, at least half of which (£1.18 billion) must be grant funded by the government.
This could lead to millions more jobs in the future and a redistribution of talent, something HR must keep track of.
Johns added: “Decarbonisation isn’t an option- it’s vital for our region, our country and our planet. Not only will it make a difference to the world we live in, but it could also help us to create high quality jobs in a healthier, greener, economically just North.”
The IPPR report , A Green Recovery Plan to Decarbonise Homes in the North, said that improving energy efficiency by taking steps such as fitting insulation and removing gas boilers, could create many of the jobs needed for recovery.