A greener recovery – how boosting the retrofit industry could generate half a million jobs in the UK

3 minutes read

Approximately 500,000 new jobs could be created nationwide within the property and construction industries if the government commits to increasing funding for retrofit projects and green skills as part of the Covid-19 recovery plans.

This is the findings of a report from UK100, released near the end of the Treasury’s Spending Review. Thousands of full time-based roles for constructors, electricians, plumbers and other industry professionals could be created if the private sector and government enhance the pandemic recovery funding committed to retrofitting and improving energy efficiency measures.

While most regions would experience some benefits of this new job creation, Essex is considered the county which would gain the most, with over 12,000 of the 68,000 positions anticipated for the South East. The North West and Eastern regions would also benefit considerably, seeing over 50,000 and 42,000 jobs generated respectively. The report suggests a timeline of approximately 3 to 4 years to allow these jobs to develop entirely.

UK100 has based its forecast on a scenario that includes an additional £5bn investment into the retrofit industry by the UK Government and the private sector following suit and raising an additional £40bn.

The Treasury has already allocated over £3bn towards retrofit projects as part of their bigger stimulus plan, with the Conservative Party committing over £9 billion within the course of this Parliament. The development of a National Development Bank focusing on financing the net-zero transition could support the generation of additional finance and funnel it towards enhancing emission reductions and drive further jobs. 

The UK100 has been urging for the development of a similar bank for some time. Judith Blake, the Resilient Recovery Taskforce chair at UK100, explains that as the furlough scheme ends, the UK is facing a climate and job emergency. Investing in around half a million skilled and secure jobs, the Chancellor has the potential to create the foundations for a resilient and sustainable recovery nationwide and ensure the UK has the workforce needed to build back greener and better.

Local authorities have already shown their commitment to supporting the country in meeting its net-zero goals. This change comes when there are warnings that thousands of job losses from the pandemic are impacting low-income regions the most.

In a move to support this investment, UK100 has created a task force of regional and council leaders representing all major political groups to agree on a “resilient recovery declaration” that represents a vital part of the Spending Review plan.

Apart from creating the National Development Bank, the declaration includes the building of a long-term government-managed plan to retrofit properties. The measures announced in the summer economic update only span a year, with many green industry professionals urging this to extend further. Other recommendations include expanding the £500 million proposed for rapid electric vehicle charging networks announced in the last Budget.

Investing in retrofit projects could create multiple benefits and support the transition towards a net-zero economy. Local authorities should have more autonomy and the necessary finance to reach net-zero goals for their regions, especially bearing in mind that most have climate-related targets to achieve before 2050.

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