22 Feb 2023
Once you’ve built up local support for your United for Warm Homes campaign, it’s time to direct this momentum towards influencing those in power. We’ll be using the run-up to the next general election to secure bold, ambitious promises and policies from all political parties in England. If you live in Wales, see our demands for the Welsh Government.Resources for getting political
The political context
Despite the energy crisis, the UK government has failed to act at the scale and speed needed to secure warm homes for all:
- It hasn’t spent the small amount promised in its 2019 General Election Manifesto on energy efficiency and insulation.
- It hasn’t introduced promised regulations to strengthen energy efficiency standards in the private-rented sector.
- It doesn’t yet have a coherent plan on how it’ll achieve the required shift from gas boilers to heat pumps.
- And it’s still, in effect, blocking onshore renewable energy in England.
Successive governments – including previous Labour governments – have preferred to focus on securing cheap energy rather than energy efficiency.
Insulation requires changes to people’s homes, which makes politicians nervous about its popularity. And there’s been a reluctance – notwithstanding a couple of botched initiatives – to spend the money needed to make insulation an attractive proposition for householders. Insulation, and more recently heat pumps, are firmly placed in the “too difficult and risky” box.
It's possible this depressing political context is changing. Renewable energy is now recognised as positive and cheap by all political parties. The Labour Party has put housing retrofit centre stage of its agenda, with an insulation programme that’d invest £6 billion a year to make 19 million homes more energy efficient by the end of the decade. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt have also talked of the need for more insulation in the context of high energy costs, but have only pledged an additional £2 billion a year between 2025 and 2028.
But it’s still not enough. To meet the challenges of the energy and climate emergencies, by 2030 all homes must be well insulated – Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) C or above – and 10 million heat pumps must be fitted. We need an annual investment of around £8 billion a year over the next decade.
This is a moment of political opportunity, so we mustn’t be complacent. To achieve the scale of change required, a concerted campaign is needed in the run-up to the next general election.
How we’ll achieve political wins
We’ll continue to push the current government on our campaign goals, but given the political context our expectations are low.
We’ll therefore use the build-up to the next general election – currently expected to be in 2024 – to ensure bold commitments from all political parties within their manifestos and secure ambitious pledges from current and prospective MPs.
We’ll only secure these commitments through strong, widespread grassroots campaigning that convinces candidates they’ll lose votes unless they support and advocate for the change needed.
It can’t be just environmental groups pushing for this within constituencies – the campaign must be genuinely diverse, bringing together green groups, faith groups, poverty groups, unions, health groups, local businesses and more. And it must demonstrate that large numbers of people in our constituencies are backing our calls.
Collectively, the job of United for Warm Homes is to ensure that all political parties make the right promises and publish the right policies ahead of, during, and after the general election.
The political battle
Our job as campaigners is to win the battle for more public spending on insulation and deeper retrofits – alongside more regulations and incentives – and on transitioning our energy system towards renewables.
It’s important to understand that this isn’t a battle of facts. Facts are important and we need to use them, but the rationale for our campaign asks have been clear for many years. Instead, this is a political battle. We need to embolden politicians to do what’s necessary.
There’s a rule of thumb in politics if you want to secure significant change:
- Make the status quo untenable – we must show that our current energy system isn’t working, for people or planet.
- Show an acceptable solution – we must show that investing in energy efficiency and green heating will have immediate as well as long-term benefits.
- Demonstrate widespread pressure for change – we must show that we have broad and vocal support. This means not just the usual suspects like environmental groups, but also businesses, unions, faith groups, health advocates and more.
The national campaign
At a national level, the campaign will:
- lobby key politicians directly
- influence those who are close to policymaking within political parties
- provide additional campaigning support to “swing seats” in red- and blue-wall constituencies
- use the media for influencing political opinion, including publishing new research.
This’ll serve to back up the critical grassroots campaigning in constituencies.
Engaging your local MP
In 2023 we need to secure active and vocal support from current MPs – there’ll be more on prospective MPs later in the year. Building a two-way relationship with your local MP(s) is key to this. You can build this relationship by:
- Inviting them to events and activities organised by your group, and sending them photos and summaries of events they’ve missed.
- Sending them any briefings, new campaign materials or stories that help them advocate for warm homes.
- Letting them know about new community groups and organisations that have joined your local campaign. This’ll show the breadth of support from different groups.
- Setting up regular meetings to update them on your campaign and hear how they’ve been advocating for warm homes.
What we need MPs to do
Politicians can show their support by:
- Posting their support for the campaign on their social media channels.
- Raising the issue within their party, for example with appropriate spokespeople or manifesto writers.
- Raising the issue within parliament by submitting written or oral questions, meeting with influential decision makers, joining all-party parliamentary groups, hosting parliamentary events or sponsoring debates.
If your MP is supportive, ask them to become an active champion for the issue in your constituency. Remember – the more they speak about the issue publicly, the more they can be held to account if elected. Encourage your MP to:
- Visit a street that needs insulation and talk to residents, either door to door or via a meeting. Make sure the media are invited to interview the MP. Find energy crisis hotspots near you.
- Invite your MP and/or prospective MPs to speak at an event you’re organising. Make sure to ask them to commit publicly to the campaign demands and outline how they’ll raise the issue with the rest of their party.
Later in the year, we’ll be launching a pledge for MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates (those hoping to become MPs) to publicly sign in the run-up to the next general election.
Engaging local political parties
We also want to gain the support of local political parties. These can help increase support locally and advocate for the campaign demands within their national parties.
Most constituencies will have an active Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Plaid Cymru or Green group. Ideally your campaign group should seek to gain support from all major local parties.
To engage your local political parties, you could:
- Offer to do a presentation at their next meeting. Many local parties allow external presentations, especially on topics of relevance to the constituency.
- Ask them to put forward a warm homes motion and/or adopt the demands of the campaign as local party objectives.
- Ask the local party to send a letter to their local MP, regional party and national policy team encouraging them to adopt our demands.
- Ask the local party to put pressure on their local MP to advocate publicly for warm homes.
- Invite them, alongside other local parties, to actions or events you organise.
If you need any guidance on or support with engaging your politicians, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your regional campaign organiser or email [email protected]