By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
Former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has said his party would expand home insulation schemes like those seen working in Mansfield if his party wins the next general election.
One Mansfield homeowner who benefited from a council-backed home insulation scheme told Mr Miliband on Thursday (February 2) he’s already saving on his heating bills.
The Labour veteran was in town to discuss Mansfield District Council’s environmental policies and his party’s proposals for home energy.
Mr Miliband, who is now the shadow secretary of state for climate change and net zero, revealed Labour’s plan is to insulate 19 million homes if the party wins the next general election.
It comes amid the sky-high cost of living forcing households to change the way they use their gas and electricity.
On the visit, Mr Miliband joined Andy Abrahams (Lab), the district’s mayor, on a visit to Birks Road, on the Ladybrook estate, to speak with a resident who recently benefited from external home insulation.
This involved materials being placed on the walls outside his home to improve the temperature inside and prevent heat from escaping.
Wider home insulations and ‘retrofits’, which are being targeted to improve the carbon footprint of homes, help to keep houses warmer and reduce the need to use gas.
John Greatorex, 39, spoke with the politicians about work to his home which was funded through the Government’s Warm Homes Grant.
The homeowner said he received a letter in September confirming he qualified for the grant and was supported by the council and its contractor Westview to get the work done.
The work, which took place over two weeks last month, brought insulation worth thousands of pounds and is already cutting as much as £21 a week off his energy use.
“I’ve already noticed my bills start to drop because I’ve got a smart metre, I’m saving probably about £2.50 to £3 a day already,” he said.
“I was using quite a lot of gas. I’ve turned it down and [the boiler] probably clicks on twice a day. Before, it was constantly clicking on and off.
“It’s brought my carbon footprint much lower and it’s all good for the environment.”
Speaking on Mr Greatorex’s doorstep, Mr Abrahams confirmed the council supported him with the work as part of plans to improve houses across the district.
He said: “We applied to the Government through the Warm Homes Grant and this is our third stage.
“We already had a commitment to approving the houses. We’re still talking in the hundreds but we’ve got tens of thousands to do.
“It’s not just for council houses but for people who don’t earn a significant amount of money to improve their homes and reduce on their heating bills.”
Former Labour Party leader Mr Miliband praised the insulation work and confirmed his party would prioritise more of this if in power.
He told reporters: “This work is a real model for us.
“Sometimes talking about home insulation can seem really theoretical, but talking with John, his bills have been cut by £3 a day – £1,000 a year.
“This is from having some simple external insulation that took a couple of weeks and he’s very satisfied.
“This is part of what we want to do across the country.
“At the general election, we will be putting forward Labour’s plan to insulate 19 million homes like John’s across the country to save people money on their bills.
“It’s great to learn from what Mansfield is doing as a model for what we want to do nationally.”
Mr Abrahams, who was brought up on the road Mr Miliband visited, added that the council wants to make the town the “centre of England” for insulation and retrofits.
“We’re already doing this on affordable housing,” he said.
“We’ve got all the ingredients, a partnership with Nottingham Trent University and Vision West Notts [College].
“Let’s get a retrofit course in Mansfield using the skills of the people here, and we can be at the centre of it all.”