LGA submission to Review of Net Zero: call for evidence

The LGA welcomes the publication of Government’s Net Zero Strategy. It is our view that the next stage of work should be a deliverable plan that will help to coordinate the actions of the multiple players that are essential in achieving decarbonisation.


About the LGA

The Local Government Association (LGA) is the national voice of local government. We are a politically led, cross party membership organisation, representing councils from England and Wales. 

Our role is to support, promote and improve local government, and raise national awareness of the work of councils. Our ultimate ambition is to support councils to deliver local solutions to national problems.

Summary

  • Councils want to work as partners with central government, to tackle climate change with a focus on transitioning to a strong net zero economy. Councils are well-placed to do this as place-shapers, convenors of communities and partners, delivery agents, commissioners, and owners of assets. Net zero can only be achieved with decarbonisation happening in every place across the country and this will require local leadership.
  • The LGA welcomes the publication of Government’s Net Zero Strategy. It is our view that the next stage of work should be a deliverable plan that will help to coordinate the actions of the multiple players that are essential in achieving decarbonisation.
  • The Glasgow Climate Pact recognised the importance of councils in delivering net zero. This has now been reflected in the UK’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution. The Government’s own Net Zero Strategy has a dedicated chapter on local climate action setting out the role of devolved and local government to delivering national climate ambitions. 
  • Local Government wants to work with Central Government, the regulators and with business to create a deliverable plan for achieving net zero both affordably and inclusively. The plan should develop a new whole-systems approach to decarbonising the economy, for instance on heat, buildings, and transport in an affordable, fair, and just way whilst delivering maximum economic growth and investment.
  • Public concern for the environment is high. Opinion polling continues to show significant levels of support for net zero, and the extent to which our way of life is impacted will become more acutely felt as flooding, heat, drought, shortages, and the associated economic damage escalates.
  • ​​​​​​​Over 300 local authorities have declared climate emergencies and are in the process of developing plans to deliver against ambitious targets. As local leaders, only councils can mobilise and join-up community action on climate change and pull a wide range of levers to deliver local action that reduces emissions and adapts to the impact.

Answers to consultation questions

Strategic energy context

Q1. How does net zero enable us to meet our economic growth target of 2.5 per cent a year?

Climate action is positive on multiple fronts. Alongside safeguarding a habitable future, associated co-benefits of the move to net zero tackle the greatest concerns in our communities, our cost of living, our health, and our economy. There are huge opportunities to shape the green recovery, locally, nationally, and internationally.

The global market in oil exerts a levelling influence on energy cost worldwide. As this levelling influence recedes, access to secure low-cost energy will give UK plc, with its abundant renewables potential, a competitive advantage that can rejuvenate our industrial and light-industrial base. By reining in wasteful practices (e.g. resulting in leakage) in the oil and gas sector, total UK methane emissions could quickly be reduced by almost nine per cent.  This would be an important contribution to UK’s commitments under the Global Methane Pledge, to cut UK methane emissions by 30 per cent.

Green job upskilling and transfer of skills to meet significant job creation and business opportunities in energy efficiency, insulating homes, renewable energy. These would result in new businesses and new jobs, while supporting existing businesses in other sectors by reducing their energy costs.

LGA modelling suggests £6.36 billion in energy costs will be wasted through leaky homes over the next twelve months with a significant proportion of that cost being incurred by the Government under its Energy Price Guarantee. There is an opportunity for urgent retrofit that accelerates the long-term decarbonisation effort and stimulates economic growth both locally and nationally.

As the Government’s Net Zero Strategy summarised, councils can influence 80 per cent of emissions from their places, they have direct influence over a third of emissions, and have direct responsibility for three to five per cent of emissions

​​​​​​​As leaders in the community, councils can connect this with strategies to inspire households to invest themselves, connecting and mobilising public services and community groups – as they did in the Covid-19 pandemic – to create an offer that provides advice, protections, and incentives to support residents make the decision to decarbonise their homes.

​​​​​​​Furthermore, the UKCCIC and UKRI are beginning to demonstrate that councils are uniquely able to build a pipeline of net zero projects with the scale to crowd in significant levels of private capital. Subject to capacity, technical skills and a clear public finance landscape, councils can lead a step change in private investment essential to the transition.

​​​​​​​Not only is investment in new technology and enterprises needed to deliver anticipated net zero demand, but also support a more productive use of existing scarce resources, and hence sustainable growth in the longer term.

​​​​​​​Q2.What challenges and obstacles have you identified to decarbonisation?

​​​​​​​One of the biggest obstacles for delivery has been short lead in times for funding schemes, short delivery timescales and a lack of joined up (systems) thinking in the programme design phase. For money for retrofit, for example, to be spent on time you need a materials supply chain that is resourced and resilient, you need a skilled workforce to coordinate, educate and instal and you need a customer base that is primed and ready to provide the demand.

​​​​​​​Homeowners have the potential to both significantly reduce carbon emissions and boost zero carbon supply chains however the payback period for investing in energy efficiency retrofit and zero carbon technology is not sufficiently attractive enough to encourage investment.   Government should further consider incentivising homeowners to invest in solar, heat pumps, EV charging and buildings energy efficiency, learning from the schemes that have gone before.

​​​​​​​The NAO has established that the Green Homes Grant Scheme has been underwhelming. It showed the delivery and implementation of the voucher scheme was rushed, reducing the intended benefits of the scheme. There was frustration for homeowners and installers with the voucher scheme, and it had limited impact on longer term job creation. The fast-paced procurement process added with the short-term nature of the scheme made it harder for installers to mobilise to meet demand. In contrast, the LAD element fully spent further highlighting that local authority led schemes deliver.

​​​​​​​The experience of the voucher scheme demonstrated challenges of investing in a new market without developing a skills pipeline and the investment to support it. In addition, it shows the lack of a strategic, long-term approach in developing the workforce needed. The independent Committee for Climate Change has recently raised concerns about the progress of developing the skills pipeline to meet the challenges ahead.

​​​​​​​Government should publish an action plan for Net Zero Skills that includes a comprehensive assessment of when, where, and in which sectors there will be skills gaps specific to Net Zero in line with CCC recommendations.

​​​​​​​Q3. What opportunities are there for new/amended measures to stimulate or facilitate the transition to net zero in a way that is pro-growth and/or pro-business?

​​​​​​​Providing local authorities with increased climate powers and multi-year budgets that incentivise investable projects, cushioning initial capital risk in place-making opportunities where businesses and communities can thrive. Introduce a long duration, well planned schemes (eg for large-scale retrofit) so businesses can respond, scale up capacity and train staff, in the knowledge that their investment will have a chance to pay off. 

​​​​​​​Giving mandate to local authorities to be part of utility infrastructure planning and investment to unlock electricity gridlock and enable investment in net zero opportunities and renewable energy generation and storage at scale by businesses.

​​​​​​​Place-making: creation of business parks that are designed to have transport hubs and key worker housing and services linked to that employment centre – rather than being on the outskirts of an urban area with poor transport links.

​​​​​​​Inward investment: pedestrianisation of town centres, incentives for high street café/popup/local wares/entertainment, provision of better public transport.

​​​​​​​Q4. What more could government do to support businesses, consumers, and other actors to decarbonise?

​​​​​​​Government should send a clear signal to the market setting out the steps required to transition to net zero, the economic opportunities of each step and the skills and resources required to complete each step. This should be in the form of a deliverable plan developed in partnership with, industry, local government, and central government.

​​​​​​​In the UK, the market for retrofit comprises of many SMEs, which creates a much more fragmented market compared to other European countries. The fragmented nature of the market makes it difficult for consumers to have confidence when procuring services. Standards and regulation would help increase confidence and local and national government have a role to play in supporting the growth and development of these companies, so they can improve profitability. SME’s will invest in upskilling their workforce if there is a requirement to do so, and there is a demand for retrofit services. With resource prices fluctuating and energy costs spiralling, the market is likely to concentrate on short-term issues. Our Work Local campaign sets out how we can best tackle local skills deficits through a more coordinated and place-based employment and skills system led by combined authorities and groups of councils.

​​​​​​​Properly resourced, Economic Growth teams and business support functions within local government can support local retrofit markets. The removal of funding silos between economic growth and skills and employment schemes will help as business support schemes that incentivises SMEs to upskill and develop workforce will support the supply chain issues. If the sector is developed using a place-based approach, economy, skills, and employment departments will be able to support businesses to effectively pivot into the market.

​​​​​​​A deliverable plan and long-term funding certainty will enable local areas to use the current skilled workforce to prioritise those properties with the most vulnerable communities in the short term. But also have the time, space and resources needed to developing partnership, resourcing, private funding, and careers pathways needed to develop the retrofit workforce for every household in their community.

​​​​​​​Q.5 Where and in what areas of policy focus could net zero be achieved in a more economically efficient manner?

​​​​​​​New research has revealed dramatic benefits of joined-up, place-based approaches which can achieve significantly greater returns on investment, achieved primarily through decarbonising heat, buildings, and travel.

​​​​​​​Local approaches to net zero are critical for understanding, planning, targeting, and connecting the range of interventions needed to enable the ‘ready to pay’ markets to grow.

​​​​​​​For instance, on decarbonising housing, councils can develop strategies that link public investment in retrofitting social homes to local efforts to build supply chains and green skills to pump-prime market growth. Councils can set the signals on the most appropriate technical solutions for different areas and help strategically build the grid capacity. ​​​​​​​

Accelerating Net Zero Delivery from the UKRI report with PWC, University of Leeds, and Otley Energy, found that a centralised – or ‘place-agnostic’ - approach would take £195 billion of investment in things like heat pumps, insulation, and electric vehicles, to meet the targets set out in the sixth carbon budget; and would release £57 billion of energy savings, and £444 billion of wider social benefits over the next 30 years.

​​​​​​​By contrast, under a scenario taking a place-specific approach, £58 billion of investment would be needed to meet the same targets. In the process it would generate £108 billion of energy savings for consumers, and £825 billion of wider social benefits over the next 30 years. The benefits of place-based approaches are significant.

​​​​​​​Q6. How should we balance our priorities to maintaining energy security with our commitments to delivering net zero by 2050?

​​​​​​​If the last year has taught us anything, it is that an economy reliant on imported fossil fuel energy that is subject to global financial shockwaves is not, and will never be, a stable economy. A stable, growing economy needs a domestic energy source that is secure, affordable, abundant, and infinite, such as can be provided by a mix of renewable sources.

​​​​​​​Decarbonising heat, buildings and transport can only happen in a secure and affordable manner if renewable energy generation, and grid capacity, increases. The LGA’s Renewable Energy Good Practise Guide, soon to be updated, highlights the strong track record councils have in supporting renewable energy generation.

​​​​​​​Councils have been mounting solar PV systems on public buildings for many years and can continue to play a central role in growing the supply of renewables. Councils are also owning and operating commercial scale renewable energy installations such as West Suffolk Councils Toggam solar farm generating up to 2007MWh of electricity per month, and Bristol City Councils wind turbines and solar panels.

​​​​​​​The rapid expansion of renewables and transition to electrification of heat and transport will require a strategically planned expansion and reinforcement of the electricity grid. Councils as place makers are integral in this process and the LGA have a planned series of engagement with Distribution Network Operators over the coming year.

​​​​​​​Extreme weather events that have been occurring more frequently in recent years both at home and abroad are a clear sign that our climate is changing rapidly, and the continued use of fossil fuels will further exacerbate the situation. The impact these events can have on our economy are equally catastrophic.

​​​​​​​The transition to net zero includes both significant economic opportunity and economic resilience and that is why it is more important than ever to accelerate the transition and shape the UK as a net zero leader, ready to export.

​​​​​​​Retrofitting our buildings with insulation and other energy efficiency measures will further help maintain energy security while also helping deliver net zero ambitions as the most efficient energy is that which is not used. However, there needs to be a step change in delivering retrofit measures.

​​​​​​​A study by the Green Financing Institute and Bankers for Net Zero found that to achieve net zero by 2050, the retrofit industry will need to increase ten-fold, therefore needing to ensure that there is a qualified and skilled workforce to deliver such change.

​​​​​​​Questions for Local Authorities

​​​​​​​Q24. What are the biggest barriers you face in decarbonising / enabling your communities and areas to decarbonise?

​​​​​​​Funding, roles and responsibilities, and capacity and capability, are three of the biggest barriers local government faces in enabling communities and areas to decarbonise.

​​​​​​​In the case of funding, climate change activity is either funded from already stretched core budgets or short-term funding pots supplied by government that have short term delivery timescales. Councils are therefore unable to plan longer term programmes of work that have the certainty required to attract private finance.

​​​​​​​In the case of roles and responsibilities, the barriers include:

  • A perceived lack of recognition, by central government, of the importance of the partnership between central and local government to deliver net zero, given that local authorities responsible for around a third of overall emissions
  • Uncertainty over the plan on some net zero areas and therefore a council’s role in the plan. If local authority actions to decarbonise were recognised as direct contributions to the country’s net zero targets, then in partnership, year on year ambition to increase carbon reductions is a possibility. Such context-driven bottom-up reporting nationally can help identify gaps in net zero across the country, as well as harness opportunities to scale up investment and delivery and ratchet up ambition as required by the year-on-year UNFCCC commitment. Locally Determined Contributions (LDC) could be a new breakthrough way to address these barriers
  • Lack of resources and skills across the system
  • Perception that some national policy does not support local ambition
  • A policy environment that that is often issue-based rather than place-based
  • An absence of standardisation and guidance
  • The absence of local powers in some cases.

​​​​​​​Cost is often a barrier to innovation at a local level. The Keep Bristol Cool mapping tool is an excellent example of local government investing in innovative tools to improve comfort, reduce carbon and save lives but it requires considerable investment to lead.

​​​​​​​In local transport decarbonisation, the biggest barriers to action are the insufficient, uncertain, and inflexible multiple funding streams for local authorities to deliver local transport decarbonisation. Long-term, single pots would help local authorities focus on decarbonisation and respond to local transport conditions.

​​​​​​​The LGA has highlighted this barrier repeatedly over the years, and whilst short-term fragmented funding exists, the government and taxpayers receive much worse value for money from its investment. The National Infrastructure Commission highlighted the multitude of small pots local authorities are forced to bid into, and the potential gains from rolling out the long-term single pots, agreed with Mayoral Combined Authorities, and more so with the devolved nations, to all Local Transport Authorities (LTAs).

​​​​​​​Government has in the past criticised local authorities for a lack of take-up of EV charging infrastructure funding and the uneven spread of chargepoints across the country. Even chargepoint operators (such as Liberty) have now joined the LGA in highlighting the poor design of the funds. Funds such as On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) are limited only to capital rather than revenue.  Most local authorities, at these times of highly constrained budgets, cannot afford the staff time to bid for these schemes leaving them undersubscribed. Subsequent improvements such as greater generosity, flexibility and funding timescales have increased the attractiveness of such funds. The new LEVI scheme recognises these barriers, potentially providing benefitting councils from a longer spending profile and, critically, access to revenue funding to help secure local capacity and capability.

​​​​​​​Switching journeys from private car to bus requires affordable, reliable, and frequent services. The National Bus Strategy invited LTAs to deliver Bus Service Improvement Plans to deliver such attractive alternatives, with an offer of £3 billion by the end of the Parliament. Rather than a national scheme though, less than half of LTAs received any funding, while the total funding for the scheme ended up at just £1.1 billion after much delay. It remains far too difficult for local authorities outside of Mayoral Combined Authorities to franchise local bus services, despite the potential of this to help upgrade bus fleets, improve services, and reduce carbon emissions.

​​​​​​​Councils generally welcome it when departments provide ‘indicative’ funding as this provides a level of certainty as to the scale of Government investment which can be expected. However, there is a recent trend in which central government awards “indicative” amounts of funding and then spends several weeks if not months negotiating with the “successful” authority about the detail of the bid before confirming award.  This means that estimates become out of date (especially in the current financial climate) and the time to deliver is significantly reduced as councils are unable to start work before the funding is confirmed. It would greatly help speed up delivery of important net-zero projects if departments could significantly reduce the gap between providing indicative funding and actual allocation.

​​​​​​​Councils are hopeful that a renewed focus on Local Transport Plans (LTPs) will encourage central government to provide long-term funding and flexibility for LTAs to deliver transport decarbonisation. This should further enable councils to allocate funding to the mix of transport solutions that will provide the best outcomes locally and in terms of carbon reduction.

​​​​​​​The Government also needs to press on with its plans to replace fuel duty. Without this, the marginal cost of driving is shrinking for a rapidly growing share of electric vehicle owners. Not tackling this issue could lead to major challenges for LTAs (such as increased traffic, reduce demand for active travel and public transport) and for the Government finances. The Government should match its willingness to support private car buyers through subsidies for EVs to even encourage switching to even more sustainable forms of transports. 

​​​​​​​Q25. What has worked well? Please share examples of any successful place-based net zero projects.

​​​​​​​There are a multitude of local authority good practice case studies that can be found on the LGA website and the Pass the Planet campaign page.

​​​​​​​Themes of good practice include:

​​​​​​​Councils will be able to point to many examples of net-zero projects, ranging from active travel infrastructure to bus prioritisation to EV chargepoint delivery to energy advice in Bristol City Councils case. In addition to this, local schemes to reduce driving, in particular London’s Congestion Charge and Nottingham’s Workplace Parking Levy have limited GHG emissions, congestion growth and improved local transport systems.

​​​​​​​As set out above, city region funding settlements like those pioneered in London have helped but should not be restricted to areas with a Metro Mayor. The evolution of the ORCS scheme and eventual LEVI plan has greatly improved thanks to intense and fruitful engagement with local authorities.

​​​​​​​The local government family has ambitions to retrofit their communities to support net zero and reduce fuel poverty. For example, combined authorities, such as Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s (GMCA) Skills for Growth Programme, awarded £1.1 million of ESF monies to North West Skills Academy to upskill in retrofit skills over 1000 people in construction and other relevant industries.

​​​​​​​Councils, such as Devon County Council have utilised the Community Renewal Fund and other funding sources to develop models to provide the skills and employment pipeline needed to address the retrofit challenge. For example, Devon has developed lecturer training, sector specific qualifications/units and employment programmes.

​​​​​​​As part of their Climate Emergency Action Plan, the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) developed a Green Skills Report, which included local Retrofit Skills Market Analysis and Green Skills Market Analysis to understand the supply chain issues and skills needs to deliver on their local net zero ambitions, as well as positive examples of action, such as the Green Futures Fund, to support the education of green skills in schools and other academic institutions.

​​​​​​​The LGA will soon be publishing a report on the benefits of place-based net zero projects and will be presenting the findings at a webinar on Tuesday 15 November 2022 from 10.30am – 12pm.

​​​​​​​Other work commissioned by the LGA includes:

​​​​​​​Our Hard to decarbonise social homes report we co-funded with the National Housing Association examines the decarbonisation of social homes, looks at why some are harder to decarbonise than other and explores changes required to make hard to treat social homes easier to decarbonise.

​​​​​​​Our report Delivering local net zero identifies how councils can unlock economic, social and environmental value through the delivery of low carbon infrastructure projects and looks at the co-benefits councils can bring in health, job creation and a reduction in carbon emissions.

​​​​​​​Our recent research on local green jobs has shown that demand for green jobs will rapidly increase as the nation transitions to a net zero economy and will help to counter the unprecedented job losses due to the coronavirus pandemic. It finds that nearly 700,000 direct jobs could be created in England’s low-carbon and renewable energy economy by 2030, rising to more than 1.18 million by 2050.

​​​​​​​Our Work Local campaign sets out how we can best tackle local skills deficits through a more coordinated and place-based employment and skills system led by combined authorities and groups of councils.

​​​​​​​The LGA’s Rethinking Local discussion paper sets out how councils must now be empowered and asks Government to provide funding flexibilities as part of long-term allocations guaranteed for councils to enable them to invest in place-based low carbon solutions.

​​​​​​​Q26. How does the planning system affect your efforts to decarbonise?

​​​​​​​The importance of planning in place making cannot be overstated. As the climate crises deepens disadvantaged communities will bear the brunt. The concept of climate justice focusing on the social dimensions that exacerbate the impacts of climate change such as economic disadvantage and environmental exclusion can help to ensure these injustices are not built in for generations.

​​​​​​​The Royal Town Planning Institute Guide for Local Authorities on Planning for Climate Change highlights the importance of planning to create places that enable people to live happy and healthy lives and the fact that it is not possible to achieve that aim without addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation.

​​​​​​​Planning offers the opportunity to set and implement the long-term strategic vision necessary to deal with the impacts of climate change such as sea level rise, extreme weather events – and crucially, it operates withing a democratic context, allowing communities to participate.

​​​​​​​Responding successfully to climate change will also define future economic progress. Only those places that can demonstrate climate resilience will be able to secure investment and insurance in the future.

​​​​​​​The planning system can also drive forward action on decarbonisation with some local authorities leading the way by setting planning policies that require developments to go further than building regulations. Councils are best placed to make these decisions as they understand their local area, their residents, and the developers. However, the Planning Inspectorate has recently blocked West Oxfordshire Council from adopting net zero policies in its Local Plan. Local decision making in the planning system is essential if the UK is going to deliver on its net zero ambitions.

​​​​​​​The National Planning Policy Framework needs to be strengthened so it does not continue to undermine local ambition and more guidance is required around retrofitting heritage and protected buildings.

​​​​​​​As an adjunct to Planning, Building Control enforcement is a responsibility that needs adequate funding and should play an increasingly important role, both in reducing embedded carbon, extending building lifetime through quality assurance and in controlling the performance gap.

​​​​​​​Refreshed Local Transport Plan (LTP) guidance should support councils to produce LTPs in co-ordination with Local Plans because of clear co-dependency in their aims and those of decarbonisation.

​​​​​​​Q27. How can the design of net zero policies, programmes, and funding schemes be improved to make it easier to deliver in your area?​​​​​​​

Net zero policies, programmes and funding schemes need to consider roles and responsibilities, sources of funding, and capacity and capability, within the design framework. As highlighted in our answer to question 26, roles and responsibilities, funding and capacity and capability, are the pillars on which policies and programmes will succeed or fail. Structuring the design of policies, programmes and funding schemes in this way will increase the likelihood of success.

​​​​​​​Maximise the opportunity presented by the Net Zero Forum for officers and set up the pending Net Zero Forum for elected members in relevant Ministries and across local authorities to provide a space for review of policies and programmes and funding opportunities. To address the scattered patchwork of local net zero policies and programmes, consider the design of bottom-up and context-relevant Locally Determined Contributions by local authorities that feed into a national reporting system where there is explicit recognition of the contributions that local authority actions on decarbonisation make towards meeting the UK’s Net Zero targets (given that a third of UK emissions are within their sphere of influence). 

​​​​​​​In partnership, bottom-up planning and reporting nationally on local authority contributions can help identify gaps in net zero across the country as well as harness opportunities to scale up investment and delivery and ratchet up ambition as required by the year-on-year UNFCCC commitment. Locally Determined Contributions (LDC) could be a new breakthrough way to ensure that all actions can add up strategically across the country to meeting UK targets – and thus inform net zero policies, programmes, and funding. Such LDC would also provide opportunities for investment and blended finance beyond public funding.

​​​​​​​The funding landscape for local government, net zero and climate change adaptation is centralised, complex, increasingly competitive, and uncertain, where councils are forced into chasing for small pots of investment from a wide range of shifting funding streams. In future, policy with a significant local element or impact should be co-designed between local and central government so that barriers to delivery and poor value-for-money for taxpayers are avoided.

​​​​​​​While the £3.8 billion Decarbonisation Fund is welcomed by the LGA, the drip-feed of small competitive pots of funding and inflexible tight timescales for delivery, have presented a barrier to councils to have a larger, more meaningful impact to meet net zero targets at a pace. Significant strides towards local and national net zero targets can only be taken if councils are empowered with the right powers and investment. Therefore, the sooner the government makes the entire £3.8 billion Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund available to councils, the better.

​​​​​​​The response to climate change shouldn’t be a competition. The approach limits the scope for strategic, coherent place-based approaches, and the social and financial benefits this returns. It doesn’t enable councils to develop projects of the scale and ambition to attract private capital. It creates a mountain of bureaucracy and duplication within central and local government. It stifles innovation. And it means some areas do not receive any funding at all.

​​​​​​​As part of a wider net zero delivery and investment framework, local and central government should work together to develop broad multi-year place-based funding strategies that attract sufficient investment to deliver the range of agreed objectives – for instance to support housing retrofit and decarbonisation, decarbonise transport across places, and spearhead nature recovery.

​​​​​​​It is encouraging that government is using carbon budgets as the funding parameter for LTPs. Government can help local authorities far more to deliver better transport and decarbonisation by focusing on clear outcomes relating to these and then stepping back, rather than replicate the current system which encourages departmental micromanagement from Whitehall with shadow targets for local authorities to provide certain numbers of EV chargepoints or a particular bus fare.

​​​​​​​Effective local transport and decarbonisation is about creating a specific, holistic response to meet local needs and preferences. Government should ensure it sticks to the encouraging signs that it will focus on outcomes rather than outputs and recognise that councils have the best knowledge of local areas, communities, and infrastructure.

​​​​​​​Most of councils’ revenue spend on climate change is from core budget, through services like housing, economic development, planning, transport. This capacity is critical to developing the projects that deliver net zero on the ground, however it is significantly limited due to wider financial and service pressures where councils have statutory duties and, as this submission explains elsewhere, these pressures are going to rise significantly.

​​​​​​​Local and central government should review and explore the critical areas to build capacity in councils, linked to the wider delivery framework and place-based allocations. Working with the LGA, Government should help all councils build in house capacity, to share and pool resources, and consider national or regional technical assistance support in key areas for instance in bringing forward projects suitable to private capital investment.

​​​​​​​There has been great movement towards place-based approaches led by local government to developing the workforce and supply chains needed to deliver retrofit and net zero ambitions. The York and North Yorkshire devolution deal includes a commitment to explore the potential benefits of and design options for a place-based approach to delivering retrofit measures, and we understand this will be likely included in other devolution deals. There is less clarity for non-devolved areas.

​​​​​​​In a scenario where there is sudden investment in retrofitting homes from national government, it is likely that there will not be a large enough skilled workforce available to deliver the scale of investment, repeating the experience of the Green Voucher Scheme. This may undermine the local place-based model that local areas are keen to continue to develop.

​​​​​​​The government should develop strategy and provide funding on a longer-term basis. This will enable local areas to use the current skilled workforce to prioritise those properties with the most vulnerable communities in the short term. But also have the time, space and resources needed to developing partnership, resourcing, private funding and careers pathways needed to develop the retrofit workforce for every household in their community.

​​​​​​​Q28. Are there any other implications of net zero or specific decarbonisation projects for your area that the Review should consider?

​​​​​​​Developing entry level retrofit skills programmes provides an opportunity to develop career pathways that create employment routes into the wider construction sector as well as effectively reskill and upskill the current workforce. Current salaries in the sector show that there is an opportunity to develop highly skilled vocational roles which increase individual incomes above the average national salary. These roles can help tackle the cost-of-living crisis and provide opportunities for individuals in communities that experience disadvantage and limited access to well paid jobs that are needed in the longer term to achieve net zero and support growth aspirations.

​​​​​​​There is a lack of financial support for replacing buildings rather than retrofitting. Too many of our leisure facilities are at the end of the lifespan and the building fabric and systems are unable to be successfully modified; and many also no longer meet community needs, so have limited impact on our obesity objectives. However, so far, most of the funding has been for retrofit rather than new-builds so the leisure sector is struggling to adapt, despite being an energy intensive service. Adapting funding to support new build opportunities where appropriate would enable more people to be active while also meeting our net zero objectives.