Decarbonisation of homes up and down the country will benefit the health and wellbeing of those living in them — as well as supporting their economic situation too. That’s why the National Home Decarbonisation Group (NHDG) has called on the Government to sustain the momentum built in the sector and release the full £3.8bn of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund in the upcoming Autumn Statement.
As winter draws in, attention is turning to the quality of homes up and down the country once again. Indeed, senior NHS officials have drawn attention to poor quality housing having “a profound impact on children’s health” and called on the government to establish a better reporting process for those in rented and social housing to drive improvements.
With this and a changing Cabinet in mind ahead of the Government’s new financial plan being announced, the NHDG’s members have shared their thoughts on the fund and why it is so vitally important moving forwards to create real benefit to people up and down the country.
Ben Williams, Head of Zero Carbon Retrofit at Wates Group, said: “The SHDF has been instrumental in supporting Wates develop our own expertise, build supply chain capacity, and develop innovative solutions needed to drive retrofit at scale. We are now delivering energy efficiency upgrades to over 5,000 homes through previous SHDF funding rounds, which are truly enhancing residents’ quality of life, delivering social value, and supporting net zero targets. SHDF Wave 3 is critical for us to continue to build on the great progress we have made to date and enable the acceleration of decarbonising the social housing stock.”
Steve Batty, Director of Sustainability at EQUANS, commented: “We firmly believe the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund is one of the most important government funding pots in recent years. The cumulative effect of retrofitting social housing and introducing low carbon solutions for tenants is incalculable.
“These measures not only support the net zero agenda; they also provide lower energy bills, help combat fuel poverty, provide warmer homes and ultimately offer greater opportunity for health and welfare. In addition, SHDF has also helped to create thousands of skilled jobs in the retrofit industry, and committing to the next round of funding will help to support this much-needed growth.
“We have supported and delivered retrofit works to thousands of homes through this scheme and are keen to continue to build on this through SHDF Wave 3 funding and continue to help change lives for the better.”
Garry McInerney, Regional Director at VINCI, said: “As a responsible main contractor, our role is to deliver warm and energy efficient homes for residents; the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund has facilitated a collaborative response between all stakeholders to enhance the energy efficiency of socially rented homes while focusing on improving living standards for residents. The timely launch of the next wave of SHDF funding will enable us to continue to invest in green skills and work with social housing providers to deliver decarbonisation in line with the government’s net zero targets.”
Mustafa Mustafa, Head of Decarbonisation at Morgan Sindall Property Services, commented: “We are committed to supporting our clients, residents, and supply chain to deliver a sustainable future and build a more resilient society. We are currently working to deliver retrofit and decarbonisation works to around 1950 homes across the country, which will reduce CO² emissions by circa 40% and residents’ energy bills by circa £380. We are also working with our supply chain to bolster their capacity and support their journey to accreditation. If we are to collectively reach net zero, it will be crucial to build on this momentum and continue to drive innovation and efficiency across the sector.”
Chris Lovatt, Chief Operating Officer at E.ON UK Solutions, said: “The UK’s social housing stock is in desperate need of improvement to make homes more energy-efficient, to eliminate damp and mould and to help lift the most vulnerable people out of fuel poverty. Renewing the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund would give greater confidence to the industry and allow us to improve more homes and help ever more customers.”
Derek Horrocks, Chair of Sustainable Building Services (UK) Ltd, commented: “The introduction of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund has been transformational for our business and the communities that we serve. Through SHDF we are supporting around 16,500 vulnerable people with approximately £145m of energy efficiency upgrades, saving around 36 GWh of annual energy bill savings. We are just getting started and the immediate launch of SHDF Wave 3 would enable us to build on our success with investment not only in recruitment, but also innovation to drive efficiency across the retrofit journey and ease adoption for private households.”
Erik Coates, Energy Service Director at PHS Home Solutions, said: “We are delighted to be working with several social landlords on Wave 2 of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund. As well as assisting many fuel poor and vulnerable tenants, it also provides a valuable pipeline of work. This allows us to sustain jobs, creating new opportunities and facilitating training and career development in our sector. The continuity that Wave 3 funding will bring will serve to increase momentum providing more installation capacity to support the government’s clean energy objective across the UK.”
Andy Merrin, Innovation and Decarbonisation Director at United Living, commented: “The Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund plays a vital role in helping the UK to achieve its net zero target. At United Living we are delivering over £50m of energy efficiency upgrades across 2,600 properties as part of existing SHDF funding commitments, but with 27 million homes to decarbonise in less than 30 years it is important that the sector increases momentum. That is why we would like to see the immediate launch of SHDF Wave 3, to build on the work we are already doing, as well as encouraging greater investment into new innovative solutions necessary to deliver at the scale required.”
Mike Roberts, Director at SERS Energy Solutions Group Ltd, said: “It is vital that SHDF Wave 3 is launched as previously planned, which will ensure that thousands more vulnerable households benefit from much needed improved energy efficiency and manageable heating bills. The energy efficiency industry is working extremely hard to meet the challenges in recruitment, development, and innovation to increase efficiencies into homes, but can only achieve this with a sustained level and continuation that this truly successful funding provides.”
Ben How, Director of Decarbonisation and Sustainability at Breyer Group, added: “Retrofit is an integral part of our current and future business plans. We have a number of projects currently underway supporting clients to improve more than 1,000 properties over the next year and a half. However, with almost two million social housing properties still needing improvement to get to just an EPC C rating there are still a number of challenges ahead for the retrofit industry, not least in the form of limited supply chain and resource.
“SHDF funding has been valuable in enabling many of our clients to unlock much-needed retrofit funding. Continuing the provision of support through the release of SHDF Wave 3 will further allow the industry to make key business decisions necessary for the growth required to deliver government retrofit targets.”
As a collective, with support from the National Insulation Association (NIA), the NHDG has written to the Prime Minister to engage on ensuring the all-important momentum needed. It aims to continue a close working relationship with the government to achieve collective goals that benefit our wider communities — starting with the recommended release of the full £3.8bn Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.