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Rather appropriately on Cold Homes Week ministers have been told that reducing the number of cold, leaky houses in the UK should be made a national infrastructure priority. It seems there is now widespread, cross-party support for this.

While this will feel like old news to us at Parity Projects and many of our industry colleagues, it’s something that still isn’t happening; even as thousands of people die each winter from the cold.

So how would we go about creating a successful national program to reduce the number of cold homes? It’s a big question, but one that we need to start debating. From our perspective, here are a few must haves:

  • Any funding would need to be targeted correctly and those in most need prioritised
  • Assessments would need to be carried out to identify improvement measures that were appropriate for the occupant(s) and the property
  • Quality assurance would need to be put in place to make sure that measures were installed correctly

and a few nice to have’s:

  • Local co-operatives of installers and assessors could be set-up/expanded to carry out the required work and offer a one-stop-shop to homeowners/local authorities. It is common for those that are fuel poor to not come forward when help is offered; this kind of model creates a trusted environment for all to build on.
  • Funding could be council tax linked, i.e. those in living bigger, more expensive houses would contribute more than those living in bedsits.

Just spending five minutes thinking about how this might work makes you realise how complicated a scheme it would be to roll out. At the same time though, something needs to be done, both from an environmental and humanitarian view point. Reducing fuel poverty and carbon emissions are huge challenges faced by the UK Government and yet it’s staggering how little is currently being done to address both. This has to change.