Thu, 01 Jul 2021

As the UK begins to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, a demand has developed from consumers, businesses and the government to rebuild in a greener, more environmentally-friendly way.

Here at BNP Paribas Personal Finance, we work hard to protect our planet.  Whether through our 1 Million Hours 2 Help volunteering days, where team members get to spend a little time helping their community or the environment or via decisions we make in our office environment, such as banning single-use cups in place of reusable alternatives.

Director of home improvement finance, Stephen Huller shares how his department is helping the UK embark on its green recovery.

“The Home Improvement Finance (HIMP) team is working to develop innovative financial solutions which enable homeowners across the UK to access the finance they need to make their homes greener. It is a vital part of the national effort to minimise our personal and collective carbon footprint, and to support the UK’s green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our innovative partnership with Trustmark was launched in 2019 and has given customers the opportunity to have finance as a payment option for work undertaken by accredited installers at the point of purchase - making it easier for consumers to afford carbon-footprint-minimising purchases such as more energy efficient boilers and solar panels. Early last year, he spoke about how important it was for installers to embrace their place at the heart of the UK’s green recovery.

“Our work is in an exciting space right now, with homeowners continuing to show an appetite for home improvements. This trend has been exacerbated by the fact people have been stuck indoors during the pandemic but also supported by the way in which greener solutions - from heat pumps and solar panels to electric vehicle charging points - have taken up a greater presence in our nation’s collective consciousness.

“What we’re seeing now is a real appetite for home improvements.  There’s undoubtedly been a pent up demand which arose during the pandemic and while this is starting to level out there are still a lot of homeowners out there who are looking to upgrade their properties with greener, more energy-efficient solutions.”

At a national level, Stephen and the HIMP team have been involved with government discussions about how they can encourage developers to build greener, incentivise homeowners to upgrade their homes and convince buyers to seek out more environmentally friendly properties when in the market for a new home.

Potential stamp duty changes, which were first floated by the UK Green Building Council earlier this year, are in discussion and, if passed, they would see an incentive applied to provide a catalyst to the market and aid the decarbonisation of the UK’s housing stock.

Grants have also been proposed to support lower income households and early adopters to ensure they are able to maximise the energy efficiency improvements they are making to their properties.

“The government knows it needs to get behind this movement and do what it can to support the decarbonisation of our homes,” says Stephen. “There are pros and cons to the potential stamp duty changes, but key individuals in government know they need to do something ahead of COP26 to maximise the efficiency of the UK’s housing stock.

“It’s great that the team here at BNP Paribas Personal Finance is part of those discussions. As a bank, we are committed to supporting sustainability and energy efficiency, and this kind of work enables us to combine that with our expertise in responsible lending to ensure we’re really helping to make a positive impact on our planet.”

This impact will continue with the development of new initiatives from the HIMP team which will aim to revolutionise their market.

“We’re a team that never stands still,” adds Stephen. “We’re working on initiatives that will really help the government to achieve its decarbonisation goals and as the country continues it is journey towards a greener future, we are confident we’ll have lots of exciting new things to share,”

Watch this space, then, as this dynamic business line continues to innovate in this most exciting of sectors.

For more information on the HIMP team and the financial solutions they offer, click here.