- Reform of Council Tax and new Help to Green scheme needed to incentivise consumer behaviour
- New incentives must be brought in to help major housebuilders improve energy ratings
- Nationwide makes £1 billion available to drive green home improvements
Nationwide Building Society is calling on the government to make the Help to Buy scheme greener, review council tax and create incentives for housebuilders to build more EPC A-rated homes – as the Society makes £1 billion available to reduce the carbon footprint of Britain’s homes.
UK homes, and the energy they use, account for 18 per cent of the country’s carbon emissions – and Nationwide, Britain’s biggest building society and second-largest mortgage lender, insists incentives for consumers are the only realistic way to help people make their homes greener.
To encourage homeowners and housebuilders to make homes more efficient, ahead of the Budget, Chief Executive Joe Garner is today urging the government to think big about reform to property taxation and housebuilding to provide a clear incentive to improve the energy efficiency of homes across the country.
The plans build on Nationwide’s 130-year history of helping people build their communities for mutual good – now the Society is calling for the government, housebuilders and lenders to create meaningful incentives for greener homes, by:
- government commissioning an independent review of council tax to explore how linking taxation to a home’s energy efficiency can incentivise green home improvements;
- government transitioning Help to Buy to a new Help to Green programme to deliver more EPC A-rated homes with taxpayer support – plus considering how other government housing schemes could promote energy efficiency; and
- Calling on lenders to incentivise green home ownership by following Nationwide’s pledge to offer discounted rates for EPC A-rated new-build homes and green home improvements.
To support the demand which these measures could unlock, Nationwide – which has more than 1.5 million homes on its mortgage balance sheet – has today announced it will set make £1 billion available for borrowers to reduce the carbon footprint of their homes. The £1 billion will be available to kickstart green home improvements and retrofitting by offering members:
- A new range of green mortgages at preferential rates if buying a new-build EPC A-rated home; and
- Preferential rates, starting from 1% for the first two years, when borrowing up to £25,000 – to kickstart green home improvements and retrofitting.
Joe Garner, Nationwide Building Society’s Chief Executive, said: “Nationwide Building Society’s core social purpose is to help people into a place fit to call home. There is now also an urgent imperative to reduce carbon emissions from those homes."
“On behalf of our members we are calling for government, house builders and lenders to work together to make a significant contribution to achieving a net-zero carbon footprint. Our suggested reforms are about creating meaningful incentives for people to green their homes. It’s not about penalising those in society who are least able to pay or putting the burden on local authorities."
“This is the greatest mutual challenge we face, and we will only make a difference if we work together.”
The Society has already taken a series of steps to reduce its carbon footprint including:
- Committing to building environmentally-friendly new homes: Nationwide’s Oakfield housing development in Swindon is leading the way in proving that it is possible to build homes to the highest environmental standards – with an ambition to create 239 EPC A-rated homes;
- Drastic improvements in sustainability – sending zero waste to landfill, acquiring Carbon Trust Triple Standard accreditation and using 100% renewable electricity;
- Being net-zero carbon for all energy use and emissions for all internal operations and company vehicles through the offsetting of residual carbon;
- Creating a £100,000 employee green fund to help employees reduce their carbon footprint across Nationwide sites;
- Joining the Green Finance Institute’s Coalition for the Energy Efficiency of Buildings to create a market for net-zero carbon, resilient buildings in the UK by accelerating capital flows towards the retrofit of existing residential buildings;
- Investing in FinTech partner Switchd – with a trial in the first half of the financial year to automatically switch members’ energy supplier to ensure they are always on the best deal, including greener tariffs, and developing a home report which will recommend energy-efficient improvements.
Dr. Rhian-Mari Thomas, Chief Executive, Green Finance Institute, said: “Developing the market for financing net-zero carbon and climate-resilient homes is a key objective of the Green Finance Institute’s Coalition for the Energy Efficiency of Buildings. We welcome the leadership shown by Nationwide in supporting homeowners and consumers with innovative financial products.
“Nationwide is one of more than 40 members of our Coalition which spans the UK Government, private sector and civil society working collaboratively to launch scalable financial solutions during the course of this year, building on market insights and consumer research that are due to be released over the next few months.”