A chilly weekend before an important council by-election may not seem like the best time to test out a Great Homes Upgrade petition, but that’s what we did – and we have shown that it can work even under the most challenging of circumstances.

A group of some of the hardiest activists that Ipswich can muster assembled before our regular campaign session to be briefed on the issue. Insulation is a real issue in Ipswich. Although council-owned housing stock tends to be well insulated, Government statistics show that over 50% of homes here are EPC D or below.

Full briefed, activists gathered the usual campaign paraphernalia with them, but also took along a petition calling on more money to insulate homes.

What we found will inform future efforts, for this and other campaigns. With the immediacy of the by-election, we found it was considerably easier to talk about that first and follow up with the issue of insultation afterwards. But where we did, it was clearly an issue that resonated with many. Residents invariably came to the door wearing jumpers or hoodies, and stories about £400 a month energy bills were not uncommon. There was certainly no shortage of people wanting to sign a petition in support of additional funding for better insulation.

Where do we go from here? The immediate focus, understandably, is the council by-election. And then, after a well-earned break for Christmas and the New Year, refreshed, and possibility with a few extra pounds to shed, it will be back out the campaign trail where I will be looking to work with councillors across Suffolk and the East of England to take motions to their local councils.

These motions will call for the Government to adopt the Great Homes Upgrade, undertaking a national effort to insulate 19 million homes by 2030 and investing £11.7 billion over the next three years. Of course, the Government will need to work with local authorities, housing associations, private rental properties and owner occupiers to deliver a scheme of this scale, and that too should form part of any motion.

I appreciate this is an ambitious ask, but it is a necessary one. We cannot hope to solve the current energy crisis without upgrading one of the least energy efficient housing stocks in Europe. Not only would people save hundreds of pounds on their energy bills, but it will also improve our country’s energy security by reducing consumption, and help create new jobs, investment and growth. Of course, it will also mean we take another significant step on the road to Net Zero.

This is an investment where we would start feeling a near instant return, socially, economically and environmentally. Insulate our homes, and we will build a new future for Ipswich, and our country.