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42,000 jobs can be created making UK schools safer, greener and more energy efficient

Making UK school buildings energy efficient and fit for the future is a win-win, according to a new report published today (Thursday) by the TUC. 

  • Funding already allocated covers just 3% of retrofits needed by schools, as energy bills rise by 93%
  • Unions hit back at government suggestions that existing funding for retrofits will be cut
  • It is “irresponsible” not to use existing technology so that schools will have more money for education and lower emissions, says TUC

The report looks at the current spending on schools through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS), and estimates how much more investment is needed.

Current funding and retrofit needs

A fifth of all PSDS funding to date (£335 million) has benefited schools, showing huge demand from schools to improve energy efficiency. But the funding available through PSDS still falls far short of what’s needed.

Funding allocated through PSDS so far represents just 3% of UK schools’ total need for retrofits. And the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy suggested last week that even this funding may be cut.

Schools typically need between £300,000 and £700,000 in repairs (based on data for England). And more than 80% of schools still have deadly asbestos present in buildings, much of which could be safely removed while retrofitting for energy efficiency.

The avoidable financial pressure that this puts on schools is rising. The House of Commons Library estimates that school energy bills have risen by 93% in the past year. And some schools have reported energy bills rising by tens of thousands of pounds, stretching resources that they want to allocate directly to education.

Threat to current funding

Last week, Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee that funding to decarbonise public buildings could be cut, with funds transferred to pay energy companies to improve domestic energy efficiency.

But as the official Climate Change Committee noted in its most recent progress report, the energy efficiency of UK non-residential buildings has barely changed at all in the last eight years.

The TUC says that instead of cutting funding for public buildings to reallocate to other schemes, the government should increase overall funding for energy efficiency. This would maximise financial savings and carbon reductions across the whole economy.

Action needed

The report shows that there is an opportunity to save schools money, help reach net zero, and create thousands of good quality jobs by measures like installing insulation, draughtproofing, and mechanical ventilation. Retrofits would also help classrooms stay cool in summer heatwaves.

The report recommends a retrofitting programme with £13.5bn of government investment over ten years, creating 42,000 construction jobs and cutting 1.2 million tonnes of annual CO2 emissions. The programme should:

  • Be delivered by local authorities to maximise economies of scale.
  • Engage school staff and students in the design of individual retrofit projects.
  • Use the opportunity to remove asbestos from buildings.
  • Maximise directly-employed labour in construction – to provide good-quality jobs for construction workers, and secure the skills needed for high-quality retrofits.
  • Employ a Good Jobs Charter for procurement standards – to ensure good quality employment across supply chains.

Click here for the full press release

 

Original article link: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/42000-jobs-can-be-created-making-uk-schools-safer-greener-and-more-energy-efficient

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