The Prime Minister has announced significant changes concerning energy efficiency and climate change policies.
A key change for landlords is that the future ban on letting properties with an EPC lower than C by 2028 will be scrapped.
The changes have been described as a more “pragmatic approach” by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The major announcements include:
- No Mandatory Energy Upgrades for Landlords: Mandatory EPC C upgrades, which were to be rolled out for existing tenancies by 2028 will not be required. The government aims to offer financial incentives to encourage upgrades.
- Boiler Upgrade Scheme Enhanced: Households looking to replace their gas boilers with greener alternatives, like heat pumps, can benefit from a Boiler Upgrade Grant, which has been increased by 50% to £7,500.
- Postponement of Bans: The government will delay the ban on oil, LPG boilers, and new coal heating for off-gas-grid homes until 2035, a move from the initial 2026 phase-out date. An exemption has also been put in place for the 2035 fossil fuel boiler phase-out, which is projected to benefit nearly a fifth of homes. Moreover, the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars is pushed back by five years to 2035.
Sunak emphasized the necessity to balance between the goals to reduce carbon emissions and the implications these measures might have on the public, especially those already grappling with financial hardships.
Foreign Secretary Sue Braverman defended these policy changes, asserting that it’s pivotal to strike a balance between environmental goals and the nation’s economic well-being. She stated “We’re not going to save the planet by bankrupting the British people”.
“We need to ensure that we take into account economic growth, household budgets and the cost of living,”
This policy shift has not been without controversy even in in the Prime Minister’s own party. Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith stated “His short stint as PM will be remembered as the moment the UK turned its back on the world and on future generations. A moment of shame.”
Meanwhile, Alok Sharma, the chair of the recent CO26 summit, insisted that the UK must uphold its Net Zero commitments.
Landlord representatives have given a cautious welcome to the proposals.
Michael Cook, Group Managing Director of Leaders Romans Group, commented on the revised policies “Whilst we recognise all individuals and industries must think differently and act differently to reduce their carbon footprint and the impact of climate change, we welcome this u-turn by the government.”
“Reducing capital outlay by reversing out of policies like this is in everyone’s interest in the short to medium turn.”
Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), also stated “We want to see all properties as energy efficient as possible.”
“But the uncertainty surrounding energy efficiency policy has been hugely damaging to the supply of rented properties. Landlords are struggling to make investment decisions without a clear idea of the Government’s direction of travel.”
“It is welcome that landlords will not be required to invest substantial sums of money during a cost-of-living crisis when many are themselves struggling financially. However, ministers need to use the space they are creating to develop a full plan that supports the rental market to make the energy efficiency improvements we all want to see.”
“This must include appropriate financial support and reform of the tax system which currently fails to support investment in energy efficiency measures.”