Claire Coutinho replaces Grant Shapps at Department for Energy Security and Net Zero

The industry has called for newly appointed energy secretary Claire Coutinho to embark on a far-reaching housing retrofit programme in order to properly address the challenge of reaching net zero.

Coutinho was yesterday appointed secretary of state at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, replacing Grant Shapps who has departed to take up the defence secretary job.

The 38-year-old has only been in parliament since 2019 and has held junior ministerial roles since last year.


Coutinho became an MP in the December 2019 election

Coutinho was previously an education minister. She has also been a minister for children and a minister for disabled people.

Simon Allford, the outgoing president of architects body the RIBA, said she needed to address the fact that millions of people were living in energy inefficient homes that are in “dire need of retrofitting”.

“If we are to address the climate emergency, help households with the cost-of-living crisis, and create new green jobs, we urgently need a well-funded National Retrofit Strategy, with a robust timetable and targets,” he added.

Simon McWhirter, deputy chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, said the body’s members were committed to working with Coutinho to deliver “decisive and far-reaching action”, including “accelerating progress on energy efficiency and upgrading Britain’s homes”.

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He said: “As deeply troubling assessments from the Climate Change Committee and others have recently shown, the government needs to re-prioritise net zero to get us back on track to meet our climate commitments.

“We stand ready to help the incoming secretary of state to transform the UK’s built environment at speed and scale.”

Coutinho began her career in the City before becoming an MP four years ago after winning the safe Tory seat of East Surrey.

Shapps, a former housing minister, was in the energy role for just six months.