The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has set out ambitious plans to retrofit 50,000 homes across the West Midlands by the end of 2022 to help tackle fuel poverty. As part of the region’s £3.2 billion investment blueprint submitted to Government, the WMCA is hoping to secure £50 million to embark on its retrofitting programme. Currently, the West Midlands has the highest fuel poverty gap in the UK due to the high average age of local housing stock. The retrofit programme would target older homes that have low energy efficiency and cause households to pay far too much on their energy bills. Work would include insulating walls and double or triple glazing window panes. Retrofitting forms part of the WMCA’s #WM2041 programme, which sets out how the West Midlands aims to become carbon neutral no later than 2041 was approved by the Combined Authority last month.
The Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, launched the plan alongside Councillor Ian Courts, the leader of Solihull Council and WMCA portfolio holder for the environment, on a visit to Sandwell. The pair travelled to Smethwick to view the site of an extended factory being built by the Hadley Group. Due to open in December, it will produce steel building elements which are more environmentally friendly than traditional ones and will have a role to play in retrofitting. These components will be assembled in the factory and dropped into place on-site making home construction quicker and more efficient. On-site they viewed an example of a house built for housing provider WHG using these elements. By using this method of construction local companies in the supply chain, like parts supplier and assembly engineer Hadley Group, will benefit from increased demand for their goods and services.
As well as having a positive environmental impact, modern methods of construction will also contribute to local employment and training, benefiting those whose jobs in traditional industries such are automotive and aerospace may be at risk. The Combined Authority estimates that the proposed retrofit scale-up and supply chain development will create 20,000 new jobs and secure 5,000 more. For more information, click here.