Retrofit Fail Is Killing People

We need to fix the 10 million cold homes which are killing people in the UK. Here's how we can work to do that.

Retrofit Fail Is Killing People
Photo by charlesdeluvio / Unsplash

What Could Be Done To Fix This Problem?

The recent report from the Institute of Health Equity highlights the dreadful living conditions nearly 10 million families are living in here, in the UK.

With poor housing affecting the health of so many people. The subsequent burden on the NHS, likely in the region of over a billion a year. It's time retrofitting became mainstream.

But if national centres of excellence (sic) still have "coming soon" messages on their retrofit resources. And government funded analysis keeps suggesting retrofitting is more expensive than the governments own estimates. How can we fix this?.

Let's start with a bucket. If your bucket was leaking. And you needed your bucket. Wouldn't you fix your bucket first, before you poured more water in?

British homes are leaking, so focussing on power generation rather than where the power, the energy is being lost, is a fail.

Here's some solutions.

Notting Hill - Houses You Cannot Afford

Penalise Landlords - Support Renters

Any landlord who rents a property with an EPC rating below EPC C, should pay a levy (with a 12 month amnesty - starting tomorrow) direct to local councils. Whether they provide social housing or private rental. People who rent, can often be the most vulnerable to poor quality housing. Landlords, even the very best ones, have a duty to make a change. Until they do, they need to nudged to improve their housing stock.

Remove VAT on Retrofit

Any product, which actively supports retrofit, and improves the energy efficiency of a building, should have no VAT added. Period.

person in blue pants sitting on brown wooden floor
Photo by Erik Mclean / Unsplash

Make UK Retrofit Materials Cheaper

Right now, hemp just got approved as a totally reliable, approved natural insulation material. But industrialised production of this UK based farmer friendly crop and insulation solution is being hampered. Hemp industrial plants waiting to be built are stymied by pharma linked legislation. Within 12 months of legislation changing we could have, mass produced insulation coming straight from farmer fields.

Make Retrofit Sexy

man in black sweatpants using DEWALT circular saw and cutting a wood plank
Photo by Greyson Joralemon / Unsplash

Group, community heating projects are being held up because of lack of knowledge, lack of trust, and lack of funding. But local initiatives like the Walthamstow power project prove that with a headwind and some solar, or in some cases some nicely made period windows any Victorian housing stock can get warmer quicker.

Coordinate Better - Winter Fuel Payments

It's kind of common sense. If someone needs winter fuel payments, they could be accelerated onto a retrofit assistance scheme.

RetroTax Retrofitting

This one's a stinker. But kind of fair. If you built a house in the last 5 years that wasn't EPC C. Pony up some profit. We're not going to name any names, but you know who you are.

Make Retrofit Easy

green and white coupe parked outside the house
Photo by Jamie Whiffen / Unsplash

It's something we're going to be very boring about. Right now, search engine optimisation is so bad. If you needed to learn, from a trusted source what could make your house warmer, quicker. It's a word soup of organisations with crap names, no one knows or trusts. Make retrofit instantly recognisable, instantly trusted and easy to do.

Remove Planning Restrictions

Grenfell was a tragedy. Preventing bio-based retrofit solutions from keeping people comfortable is a terrible by product of a terrible tragedy. Someone, out there, fix that.

Cut Through The Noise

There is increasing voices calling for drastic action to make peoples lives more comfortable. From the Greater London Authority to the UK Green Building Council. There must be a way to cut through this noise and get these issues heard.

A lot of effort goes into the reports from the various government and not for profit organisations. It's phenomenal seeing the companies who are signatories.

However. The calls for change are not cutting through the news yet.

And maybe part of that challenge is making the route to that information easier to find, easier to digest and easier to share.

It's a simple start, but stop issuing PDF reports for downloads. Make search optimised web pages or social media posts. Please.

We're getting there, but right now, a few million people are looking forward to another cold winter in 2024, let's fix that.