Mayor of London unveils £51m housing programme to tackle fuel poverty

The Mayor of London has committed £51m as part of a “retrofit revolution” to improve the energy efficiency of homes in the city. More than £40m has been secured from the £40.2m in Sustainable Warmth funding from the Government. The Mayor’s office believes that the funding will help upgrade 3,200 fuel poor homes from Spring 2022.

The upgrades will be delivered through the Warmer Homes scheme that offers grants of up to £20,000 for heating, insulation and ventilation improvements. Low-income homeowners or those who rent privately are eligible to apply for the upgrades.

The rest of the funding will come from the Warmer Homes Programme with investments of £2.6m from City Hall and £8.5m from the government which will support emergency heating replacements and repairs.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “It’s unacceptable that many Londoners can’t afford to keep their homes warm and instead suffer cold, damp conditions throughout winter. We know the economic impacts of the pandemic and rising fuel prices are likely to plunge even more London households into fuel poverty. That’s why from today, I’m reopening my Warmer Homes programme to support vulnerable Londoners this winter.

“I’m pleased that our £51m commitment will directly help those living in ageing, energy-inefficient homes. This investment will help tackle the climate emergency and support Londoners with the skills they need for jobs in the green economy.”

London’s overarching climate ambition is to reach net-zero by 2030 – two decades ahead of the UK’s national legal deadline. The vision forms part of a Green New Deal framework. 

Khan had originally set a 2050 net-zero deadline, before the national target was set, but brought this forward in recognition of the capital’s contribution to national annual emissions and its ability to act as a hub for sectors including solar and green finance. Indeed, London has repeatedly been named by CDP as a climate ‘A-list’ city.

With housing and business buildings responsible for 78% of the capital’s annual operational emissions, and with London experiencing the third-highest level of fuel poverty in the country, it is clear to see why the built environment is the focus of the new schemes. A ‘Zero-Carbon Home’ standard was introduced in 2016 and mandates all new build homes to reach net-zero operational emissions by 2025, but most of the buildings which will be standing in the capital in 2030 already exist.

The Mayor’s office is concerned that the current high energy prices, compounded by the economic impacts of Covid-18 could plunge even more households into fuel poverty over the winter. Estimates suggest that as many as 75,000 more London households could become fuel poor from higher fuel bills.

As part of the Mayor’s retrofit revolution, the City of London announced that a Centre of Excellence would be created with funding from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The centre will help social housing providers gain access to funding for major retrofitting projects, after such organisations expressed difficulty with identifying appropriate schemes and crafting successful applications. This includes access to the next round of the £160m Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.

Commenting on the announcement, the National Energy Action’s chief executive Adam Scorer said: “Every home should be a warm and safe place but for over 530,000 households living in fuel poverty across London this winter is going to be very challenging.  People struggling with energy costs are falling through the cracks of national programmes. I welcome the Mayor’s plan to help cut bills and emissions and improve health and well-being for some of the most vulnerable Londoners.”

Matt Mace

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie