£160m Government funding boost for improving energy efficiency of social housing

Image: Clarion Housing Group

Called the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, the scheme will allocate grants to those managing social housing properties with energy performance certificate (EPC) ratings of ‘D’ or below. There are 1.6 million such properties in the UK and, in the first instance, the Fund will support retrofitting at up to 38,000 properties.

Energy efficiency upgrades covered by the scheme include fitting new heating systems, energy-efficient doors and windows and insulation. Bids will need to be filed by social housing operators or councils before 15 October and applicants will hear back in early 2022.

The Department For Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which is overseeing the Fund, allocated £62m earlier this year to the Social House Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator – a project testing innovative approaches to retrofitting social housing at scale. Learnings from the Demonstrator will be applied in allocating the new Fund. The Demonstrator aims to cover 2,300 properties and some of the tenants to have had retrofitting already have seen a £300-500 reduction in their annual energy bills.

The average household benefitting from the new Fund will see their annual energy costs fall by around £170.

BEIS has described the Fund as offering a “triple win” – warmer homes for tenants, lower energy bills and lower emissions. Domestic properties notably account for some 20% of the UK’s annual national emissions and the Climate Change Committee (CCC) has repeatedly warned Ministers that, without action on energy efficiency and decarbonising home heating, the nation will not meet its long-term climate targets.

“Today’s announcement is a vital step forward in eradicating UK fuel poverty and improving the lives and homes of low-income households, all while creating new work for local plumbers, builders and tradespeople who will be building homes fit for our greener future,” said the Minister for Business, Energy and Corporate Responsibility Lord Callanan.

“With a real appetite among councils and housing associations to make their homes cheaper to heat and warmer to live in, this investment is putting the power in the hands of the people who know their communities best, allowing the right decisions to be made for each home they manage while ensuring the very best for their tenants and the environment.”

Retrofit finance

BEIS has stated that the £160m pot announced today (23 August) is the first phase of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, with additional support to be announced in the future.

The Conservative Party stated in its Manifesto ahead of the General Election in 2019 that it would spend £9.2bn on energy efficiency this Parliament and, while £1bn has been earmarked for public sector organisations, the £2bn Green Homes Grant ultimately closed with less than 10% of the promised vouchers issued.

Ministers have been under growing pressure to clarify plans for replacing the Green Homes Grant. The answers are now likely to come in the Heat & Buildings Strategy, which is due this autumn ahead of COP26, following a string of delays.

As for new buildings, the Future Homes Standard will come into effect for all properties built from 2025. The Government claims that the standard will ensure that new homes produce at least 75% less greenhouse gas emissions in operation than those built to current standards.

Sarah George

Comments (1)

  1. Tim Beesley says:

    Good to see this initiative, but it’s still behind the curve. There’s a looming threat from global heating, that of the danger of increasing ill health/death from heat. Will such initiatives even begin to look at the need for cooling and shielding from heat?

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