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Government urged to encourage energy-efficient homes

The Federation of Master Builders has warned the Treasury that the Budget must include measures to make homes more energy-efficient, boosting the industry and helping householders protect themselves against rising fuel bills.

In a letter to the Chancellor, FMB chief executive Brian Berry stressed that by 2016 9 million British households could be in fuel poverty.

He said action was needed now to help get Britain building towards growth and that independent economists estimate that diverting funds into a massive public sector programme to improve the energy efficiency of Britain’s existing 26 million homes would boost GDP by 0.2 per cent, create 130,000 jobs and help the government meet its own targets for cutting carbon emissions.

Mr Berry said: “We want ministers to rethink the unrealistic timeline for zero-carbon homes, which was set back in 2006 before the economic slump.

“Our own survey of smaller housing developers found that the proposals to change Part L of the Building Regulations in October this year could add more than £3,500 to the cost of building a new house.

“This will discourage even more developers from building new homes, further exacerbating the desperate housing shortage and locking low and middle-income buyers out of the market.”

He added that a cut in VAT from 20 per cent to 5 per cent on home renovation and repair is needed.

Britain’s ageing housing stock is deteriorating as homeowners can’t afford to get work done, Mr Berry argued, and families are trapped in a vicious cycle in which they can’t afford to move and planning red tape makes it harder to alter their homes to meet changing need.

“Cutting VAT on renovation and repair would give a shot in the arm to beleaguered builders, create jobs and encourage householders to make their homes more comfortable, affordable and energy-efficient,” he said.

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