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Labour Warns Renters Could Be Hit By Higher Fuel Bills With Green Home Plans

Labour have said there is "no plan" to protect renters from higher fuel bills

3 min read

A focus on homeowners in the government's new heat pump plan could mean that renters could "bear the brunt" of green housing policies, Labour has warned.

Homeowners in England and Wales are set to be offered £5,000 grants from next April to help cover the cost of replacing gas boilers with new heat pumps in a bid to drive down carbon emissions.

The £450m fund will cover just 90,000 homes in the first three years, but comes as part of a wider £3.9bn package aimed at decarbonising the UK's housing stock.

But shadow housing secretary Lucy Powell expressed concern that there appeared to be "no plan" to protect renters from higher gas bills if landlords refused to upgrades on their properties with the energy efficient electric heating.

"Yet again, the Tories have shown they're not serious about tackling climate change or addressing the problem of poorly insulated homes, and there's no plan to help renters facing higher energy bills," she told PoliticsHome."Families up and down the country desperately need Labour's 10 year plan investing £6 billion a year for home insulation and zero carbon heating to cut bills by £400 per year, create jobs, reduce carbon emissions and improve our energy security."

Polly Neate, chief executive of housing and homeless charity, Shelter, said landlords should not "sit back and wait" for government schemes before taking action.

"The climate emergency will only make the housing emergency worse, and that's why it is essential that we make our homes net zero by 2035, or earlier if possible," she said.

"However, it is vital that tenants, who are already struggling to pay extortionate private rents and heat their homes, are not bearing the brunt of the cost of greener housing.

She added: "Landlords have a responsibility to make sure they are providing good quality, net zero homes. They cannot sit back and wait for government initiatives and schemes to be introduced before they take action. 

"It is critical that landlords invest in their properties now to improve conditions and reduce energy bills for tenants."

Dan Wilson Craw, deputy director of Generation Rent, added that while the recent gas price hike could encourage some homeowners to shift to new technologies, there was little reason for landlords to make the same investments.

"Private rented homes are the hardest to make greener because the tenant pays the bills but has to rely on their landlord paying for the improvements," he said.

"Raising gas prices might encourage home owners to invest in heat pumps, but on its own that won't get landlords putting basic insulation in their properties, let alone installing the newest technologies. As a result more renters will be unable to afford to heat their own homes properly." 

He added: "Homes that are harder to heat are more likely to have damp problems, causing health problems for their occupants. The net zero agenda should deliver lower bills and healthier homes for renters, but without a better plan the government will achieve the opposite."

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