There is a general consensus that Scotland's housing would benefit hugely from a deep retrofit. The benefits from such a programme are clear. It has the potential to make a very significant contribution towards Scotland's net zero target, as well as reducing fuel poverty, improving the health of residents and potentially creating lots of new jobs.

The pressing need for a deep retrofit is also clear. Scotland has some of the oldest housing in Europe and is not building enough quickly enough to re-balance the profile of the overall stock. This has resulted in a large pool of the country's housing being draughty, poorly insulated and reliant on out-of-date heating systems.

If we look at what we have done to date to address this, there seems to have been a lot of talk like this blog but a lack of action. We have relied to date on a mixture of grants and other incentives to encourage individuals and other owners of housing to undertake energy efficiency works. While this has had some impact, I would suggest that it is not really touching the sides of the problem when looked at as a whole, and if we are really serious about achieving a net zero position and the other benefits highlighted above, then we need urgently to be applying a holistic and co-ordinated approach to tackling the issue.

I would suggest that we need a single co-ordinated programme to tackle deep retrofitting, involving representatives from key stakeholders, including, government, local authorities, housing associations healthcare, the property industry, finance and most importantly residents.

I would also suggest that we need to recognise that we must move from applying incentives to imposing requirements if we are to meet the timetable that has been set. Private homeowners and landlords need to be made responsible for improving their housing with minimum standards set in relation to key triggers such as house sale or new letting. House pricing and inflation should factor in this cost.

We also need to recognise that this is an issue that affects all types of housing, including local authority, housing association, private rented and privately owned. We need to look at imposing measures across all of these housing types and the different architypes within them. We need a co-ordinated approach that looks at all of Scotland's homes.

Lastly, and not least, is the issue as to how we are going as a society to pay for this. The cost per home will be substantial. However, we need to balance against this the benefits both in terms of climate change impact and also on improving the health and quality of life of residents. To date, there have been a series of incentives provided. We must however think much bigger if we are to achieve what is needed. It is not sufficient to rely on a mix of private finance and current government funding. We need to think outside the box and seek to create a government backed funding programme focused on addressing this issue. This need to be long-term and with success measured against achievement of the benefits highlighted above.

I would suggest that repayment of such funding would need to tie in with the churn of the housing benefited in relation to the private housing sector and in relation to the social and affordable sector by long ended modelling against the business plans of the housing provider.

This is one of the biggest challenges facing us but given the core importance of a properly heated and insulated home, one which we cannot ignore.


Chris Dun