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Energy efficiency upgrades

More than 115,000 homes across England will benefit from energy efficiency upgrades which will save residents money on their bills, with the allocation of nearly £2Bn in extra funding announced by the Government.

With some £1.4bn available through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund and Home Upgrade Grant, energy-saving measures ranging from loft insulation to new windows will be implemented. An additional £1.1bn in match funding for social housing – provided by local authorities, providers of social housing and charities – will bring the total investment to £2.5bn to upgrade social and private homes in England.

The money will go towards improvements to vulnerable households and off-gas grid homes with an EPC rating of D or below and could save tenants between £220 and £400 a year on energy bills.

These schemes could also support around 20,000 jobs in the construction and home retrofit sectors, helping to deliver on our promise to grow the economy and create better paid jobs, whilst supporting families across the country.

On top of this, a further £409M has been granted through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme to help public sector buildings such as schools and hospitals drive down their carbon emissions. Upgraded heating systems, powered by cleaner, cheaper, renewable energy, will reduce the use of fossil fuels exposed to volatile global energy prices – supporting thousands of jobs and saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds.

Secretary of State Grant Shapps said: “We know this is a difficult time for families, which is why the government is covering around half a typical household’s energy bill this winter.

“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.

“Not only this but the funding is also a huge boost for job creation and economic growth, opening up new and exciting opportunities across the UK’s ever-expanding green sector.”

Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, said: “The UK is truly a world-leader when it comes to reducing carbon emissions and the progress we’ve made over the last decade has been remarkable. But we can’t rest on our laurels and must continue to drive forward progress, setting a standard for other countries to follow.

“Reaching net zero means considerable action from the public sector as well as private sector. Through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme funding allocation announced today, we are empowering public bodies to save the taxpayer hundreds of millions while packing a punch on our ambitious and necessary climate goals.”

The funding will be rolled out from April 2023 to upgrade homes over the next two years.

The government has also announced today that over £400M has been allocated to public sector bodies across England to help reduce their carbon emissions. Some 144 public sector organisations responsible for hospitals, schools, leisure centres, museums and universities will benefit from this support.

This funding is being delivered through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which provides grants to public sector bodies to fund low carbon heating, renewable energy and energy efficiency measures such as heat pumps, solar panels and insulation. The scheme is being delivered on behalf of the government by Salix Finance.

Organisations set to receive funding include Adur and Worthing Councils, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, Northumbria University, Greater Manchester Academies Trust and many other worthy recipients across England looking to improve the sustainability of their buildings.

The Scheme aims to support the government’s commitment to reduce emissions from public sector buildings by 75% by 2037, compared to 2017 levels, as first set out in the 2021 Heat and Buildings Strategy. The commitment follows significant progress the UK has already made towards reaching net zero – cutting all emissions by 48% between 1990 and 2021, which is faster than any other G7 country. Decarbonising the public sector with low carbon heating and energy efficiency measures is also expected to save the public sector an estimated £650 million per year on average to 2037.

Chris Jones, CEO, Aico|HomeLINK, commented: “The government’s announcement of £1.8bn to upgrade social homes in England and public buildings across the UK is a welcome boost to the decarbonisation of our buildings. Heating the UK’s buildings contributes 23% of total emissions (source) and substantial reductions are needed to meet the nation’s net zero goals. The IPCC’s sixth assessment report, published earlier this week, provided a stark reminder of the challenge we face to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels (source).

“Previous waves of SHDF funding have failed to deliver, with less than 10% of the 20,000 homes expected to be upgraded receiving measures during Wave 1 of the programme so far (source). This is due to a skills gap in the sector as well as increased costs and shortages of materials. Without a focus on the development of green skills and robust supply chains to deliver upgrades, we risk these newly announced funding pots leading to further delays.

“As well as skills shortages, the £1.4bn allocated for social homes falls far short of what is required to decarbonise the sector’s entire stock. It is estimated that it will cost £55 billion up to 2050 to improve the nation’s 5 million social homes (source). Accelerating these upgrades will likely reduce the overall cost of delivery. Combined with the high cost of energy bills, we must find delivery mechanisms that incorporate energy savings to reduce the overall cost and increase return on investment. In this regard, the earlier we act, the lower the cost. We must also ensure retrofits provide the performance and improvement benefits as well as energy cost savings they promise. The current model of energy performance assessment uses partly subjective tools and is blind to building performance once homes are occupied. This can only be achieved through improving the data we have on our homes, using it to evaluate the overall impact of improvement works after completion.”

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