Labour pledge to put solar panels on a million social homes

Should they win a General Election, the Labour Party will install solar panels on a million social homes to tackle fuel poverty, providing residents with free energy and saving them an average of £117 a year on their bills.

They say any unused electricity generated by the programme will be used by the national grid, which Labour would take into public ownership, raising an additional £66m per year for local authorities, they claim.

The programme will be funded with interest-free loans, grants and changes to regulations.

Labour estimates its policy will create 16,900 jobs and save 7.1 million tonnes of CO2, equivalent to taking 4 million cars off the UK’s roads.

The plans will be announced tomorrow on a visit to Yorkshire by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Rebecca Long Bailey, Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary.

Jeremy Corbyn said: ‘In this country, too often people are made to feel like the cost of saving the planet falls on them. Too many think of green measures as just another way for companies or the government to get money out of them, while the rich fly about in private jets and heat their empty mansions.

‘By focusing on low-income households we will reduce fuel poverty and increase support for renewable energy. Social justice and climate justice as one. Environmental destruction and inequality not only can, but must be tackled at the same time.’

Rik Smith from energy comparison website uSwitch.com welcomed the pledge but said details on how the plan will be funded must be ‘closely scrutinised’.

‘Cleaner power helped contribute to a third of the UK emissions reduction in 2017. But there is a long way to go and considerably more investment will be required to meet the country’s electricity needs in the future, especially with the predicted increase in the number of electric vehicles on our roads,’ he added.

The Conservative government has been criticised in recent months for a luke-warm position towards solar energy.

Their popular Feed-in Tariff subsidy scheme, which has seen almost a million households paid for the electricity they have generated, closed for new applicants in March and there has been uncertainty surrounding the government’s planned Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme which will replace it.

They are also expected to increase VAT on solar panels to 20% before the end of the year.

The Scottish government already have a programme of installing solar panels on social homes, and in March, announced a multi-million-pound solar scheme for social housing in Aberdeenshire.

Thomas Barrett

Thomas Barrett

Journalist. Follow him on Twitter

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