Too many people are denied the opportunity to make the most of their talents simply because of where they live. This waste of human potential has significant economic, as well as personal, costs. With economic growth concentrated in London and the South East, a long tail of low-productivity explains why UK growth lags behind international comparators. Spreading access to in demand skills and good, sustainable jobs is therefore foundational to levelling up.

The transition to a low carbon economy has the potential to create over 700,000 net new jobs by 2030, with roles in buildings construction and retrofit likely to grow rapidly. Making the most of these opportunities to create a positive future for left-behind communities must be at the heart of net zero policy. Mitigating downsides isn’t enough; the policy objective must be to maximise upsides.

Projections suggest that key net zero aligned sectors in the UK could contribute up to £60 billion of gross value added (GVA) a year by 2050. In the context of both chronic and acute economic challenges, ranging from sluggish and regionally imbalanced productivity growth to rising rates of health-related economic inactivity, decarbonisation represents an important opportunity to address a range of problems holding the UK back, both socially and economically.

And UK businesses recognise the economic opportunities that a well-managed transition to a low carbon economy represents. Original polling for the CSJ has found that 60 per cent of business leaders believe the economy is in a negative state and just 40 per cent of business leaders have confidence in the Government’s national economic vision. Confidence in Labour’s economic vision rises only slightly to 46 per cent. More positively, however, 77 per cent of business leaders told us they were either ‘quite’ or ‘completely’ confident that plans to reduce carbon emissions would bring economic benefits.

An appropriately skilled workforce is central to realising these benefits. While the Government readily talks of ‘green skills’, has established a ‘green skills taskforce’ and set a target of creating 2 million green jobs by 2030, concrete policy lags behind.

High level policy ambition is important but only gets you so far. This report, therefore, drills into the practicalities of a specific issue: the decarbonisation of social homes. This will not only be critical to meeting legally binding emissions targets but also promises to ease cost of living pressures and support quality, sustainable employment with low barriers to entry, making it a key mechanism for spreading the benefits of decarbonisation to lower income communities.

We are calling on the Government to work hand in glove with business to make the most of net zero. Our key recommendations include:

  • Reorienting the skills system towards the green economy, including via green apprenticeships;
  • Ensuring the UK Infrastructure Bank is equipped to support retrofit at scale;
  • Delivering a refreshed modern Industrial strategy that has net zero at its core.

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