Homeowners who sell draughty homes could be fined, a report has suggested.Economic consultancy Frontier Economics says the money raised could underpin government funding for insulating the homes of the least wealthy homeowners.It is the most radical idea in the report, which also urges interest-free loans and tax and stamp duty rebates for people to insulate their homes.Frontier warns the government will miss its targets on cutting carbon emissions unless it stops energy waste in homes.Households ‘need help to get warmer home”Abysmal’ take-up for Green Deal loansThe government said it is considering many options as part of its long-delayed Clean Growth Plan, which is expected soon.Frontier’s report notes that government advisers say ageing housing stock is the biggest obstacle to meeting the UK’s climate change targets.Improving homes also gives a boost to health and comfort and keeps bills down. But renovating homes is often an expensive hassle.
The report says that, following the collapse of the ill-fated Green Deal home loan scheme, ministers must find new ways of incentivising people to take on improvement work.The Green Deal was criticised for offering loans at 7% interest.The report suggests instead offering equity loans at lower than the standard mortgage rate, to be paid back when owners die or move house.Another idea is to charge differential stamp duty depending on the level of insulation in the property. Traditionally the Treasury has been unwilling to fund improvements that will increase the value of people’s homes, but it’s under pressure to be creative to solve the problem. Infrastructure priorityThe report also suggests that people should be tempted to invest in home improvements through a “salary sacrifice” scheme – where part of a person’s salary goes towards energy efficient renovation, and they then save on the associated income tax.Frontier Economics’ report was funded by a coalition of groups concerned about housing stock – including the architects’ body Riba; the green thinktank e3g; the Institution of Civil Engineers and the electricity group Energy UK. They all want housing treated as an infrastructure priority. “It’s the package of measures that matters,” a spokesman, Ed Matthew, told BBC News. “We want to stop the government’s incremental, short-termist, approach – and treat this like the major infrastructure programme it is… after all every home must be zero carbon within 30 years.”Follow Roger on Twitter @rharrabin