Contractors snubbed as govt appoints energy efficiency taskforce

Contractors have called for greater involvement in developing the UK’s retrofit and energy efficiency strategy after being excluded from the government’s energy efficiency taskforce.

The taskforce will be chaired by energy efficiency minister Lord Callanan and NatWest chief executive Alison Rose. Its target is to support cutting energy use in the UK by 15 per cent between 2021 and 2030.

The taskforce consists of 15 other group members, including several experts in the energy, financial and manufacturing markets – but only a single builder: David Thomas, chief executive of  homebuilder Barratt Developments (see full list below).

The panel also includes Simon McWhirter, deputy chief executive of the pan-industry UK Green Building Council, as well as infrastructure expert John Armitt, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission.

However, there are no contractors or small-builder representatives on the panel, with no one from the government-sponsored Construction Leadership Council being invited, despite the body having produced a national retrofit strategy based on industry capacity.

The exclusion of contractors from the taskforce comes despite the National Federation of Builders writing to Callanan last week “requesting greater involvement from contractors and those that will actually be completing the works”, according to the federation’s head of housing and planning policy Rico Wojtulewicz.

“Otherwise it feels as though it’s a lot of people that have got a vision, but don’t understand how that vision comes together in practice,” Wojtulewicz added.

Wojtulewicz said that retrofitting at a high standard and reducing the costs of installation would be “absolutely key” to reducing energy use. “And that can only be achieved if industry leads.”

Federation of Master Builders chief executive Brian Berry, meanwhile, told Construction News: “The energy efficiency taskforce is a welcome step forward to help deliver the retrofit of our existing homes. However, it’s disappointing it doesn’t carry any representation from SME builders, as they are the ones that will carry out domestic retrofitting work.

“We’ve already taken steps as an industry to coordinate retrofitting activity through the creation of the National Retrofit Hub. I would urge the new taskforce to work with the hub to help secure the retrofit our 28 million homes.”

The taskforce, which was first announced in last year’s Autumn Statement, will support reduced energy demand through the “accelerated delivery of energy efficiency measures” across domestic and commercial buildings and industrial processes, said the government. This will include speeding up household insulation and boiler upgrades.

Callanan said: “We have scoured the UK’s industry to amass a top team of the best and brightest, and I am excited to learn from the unique expertise that each member brings to the table.

“We firmly believe the will of people and industry to drive down energy use is there, but we need to put in place the right mechanisms to channel this. That means smart investment, effective engagement, and building the right skills base – and this is precisely what the taskforce will be focusing on.”

Members of the government’s Energy Efficiency Taskforce

Lord Callanan, minister for Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (co-chair)
Alison Rose, group chief executive officer, NatWest Group (co-chair)
David Thomas, chief executive officer, Barratt Developments
David Halpern, chief executive officer, Behavioural Insights Team
Graham Bell, chief executive officer, B&Q
Mitesh Dhanak, chief executive officer, Cenergist
Laura Sandys, chair of the government’s Energy Digitalisation Taskforce
Will Swan, director, Energy House Laboratories at University of Salford
Emma Pinchbeck, chief executive officer, Energy UK
Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas, chief executive officer, Green Finance Institute
Michael Liebreich, chairman and chief executive officer, Liebreich Associates
Stephen Phipson, chief executive officer, Make UK
Adam Scorer, chief executive officer, National Energy Action
John Armitt, chair, National Infrastructure Commission
Carl Ennis, chief executive officer, Siemens plc
David Postings, chief executive officer, UK Finance
Simon McWhirter, deputy chief executive officer, UK Green Building Council

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