UK Government unveils plan for £1.8bn of spending on building energy efficiency

Image: Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, one of the 114 recipients of new Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme funding

It has today (22 March) published details of the allocation of the latest phases of the Home Upgrade Grant (HUG), which applies to privately owned properties, and the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, for homes owned by local authorities and other social housing providers. The level of funding itself was first confirmed last September.

Across both schemes, the Government is allocating £1.4bn – around £630m for the HUG and £780m for the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.
The Government has also confirmed an additional £1.1bn of match funding from local authorities, social housing providers and charities for the latter scheme.

Additionally confirmed today is the regional breakdowns of spending for both the HUG and the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund. Funding will be rolled out from next month and allocated over a two-year period.

Both schemes will be allocating funding for retrofitting in homes with an energy performance certificate (EPC) of C or below, with the Government stating that the funding announced today should benefit some 115,000 homes across England. Funding is provided for things like double and triple glazing, wall insulation and loft insulation. The Government claims that the average home benefitting from the scheme will see its annual energy bills decreasing by between £220 and £400.

“This is a huge investment that will help households save hundreds on energy bills and see them heat their homes for less, and stay warm for longer,” said Energy Security and Net-Zero Secretary Grant Shapps.

National Energy Action chief Adam Scorer called the investment “vital” and “desperately needed”.

“Low-income households, in the least efficient homes, are being hardest hit by the energy crisis and are having to pay hundreds of pounds more than the typical household just to heat and power their home to a minimum reasonable standard,” Scorer said. Analysis from the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit last year found that homes rated EPC ‘F’ were likely to have annual gas bills around £1,000 higher in 2020 than those rated ‘C’ or higher.

Currently, around 46% of the UK’s housing stock is meeting EPC C or above, compared to just 9% in 2008. The amount of social housing meeting this requirement has risen by 18% to 66% in the same timeframe, according to the Government. The UK Government has been advised by its climate experts to bring forward legislation and regulation to ensure that all homes meet at least EPC C by 2035.

Public sector buildings

Also today, the Government has announced how it is allocating the latest tranche of funding from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, totalling some £409m.

The funding will be divided between 114 public sector bodies across England who have placed successful bids for projects to improve the energy efficiency of hospitals, schools, universities, museums and leisure centres.

The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme aims to support the government’s commitment to reduce emissions from public sector buildings by 75% by 2037, compared to 2017 levels. It provides public sector bodies with up to 100% of the upfront costs of a range of energy-saving projects and low-carbon heating projects.

The latest funding round is part of the £2.5bn set aside for government spending on upgrading public sector buildings between 2020 and 2025.
Last year, the National Audit Office (NAO) criticised the Government’s approach to accounting and reporting on public sector greenhouse gas emissions, citing multiple frameworks and a lack of ownership as reasons that create confusion for professionals in the sector.

The NAO report concluded that while central government departments are reporting decent progress on decarbonisation a “patchy” and “inconsistent” approach to reporting and accounting is creating confusion in the sector.

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