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Government announces £179m for energy efficiency measures in social housing

The installation of heat pumps is becoming increasingly common, with British Gas launching an offering that includes social housing earlier this year. Image: British Gas.

The installation of heat pumps is becoming increasingly common, with British Gas launching an offering that includes social housing earlier this year. Image: British Gas.

The government has announced £179 million in funding to provide energy efficiency upgrades to social housing, including the installation of heat pumps and solar panels.

It forms part of the £3.8 billion Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, which is designed to bring housing stock rated EPC C or below up to a higher standard.

During the fund’s demonstration phase 2,100 households were upgraded, and 20,000 more across 69 projects are now expected to benefit from external wall and roof insulation and energy efficient doors and windows, as well as heat pumps and solar during the first wave.

“The UK has a strong track record in improving the energy performance of its homes and this funding will continue that as we deliver huge benefits for social housing residents – ensuring they keep more of their cash,” minister for business and energy Lord Callanan said.

“The £3.8 billion we’re investing through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund is helping drive down energy bills for thousands, targeting help to those who need it most by making their homes warmer, more comfortable and greener.”

The funding will be allocated to local authorities who will then work with social housing providers to roll out the measures, with companies encouraged to install upgrades in the least efficient homes first. It is expected to create around 9,000 jobs in the green energy sector as a result of the funding.

It follows Ofgem announcing last week that the default tariff price cap is jumping 54% in response to surging wholesale power prices on the back of a gas shortage. The jump in price cap is expected to push the number of households in Britain in fuel stress to over 6 million.

One key criticism of the government’s support package – which includes a one-off repayable £200 loan, a £150 council tax rebate and a discretionary fund – was the lack of long-term strategy, including a lack of focus on the importance of energy efficiency measures for protecting households from exposure to price volatility.

Previously the government launched the Green Homes Grant scheme – which offered grants for measures including insulation, heat pumps and solar thermal – to improve the energy efficiency of Britain’s homes. However it shuttered after just a few months amidst criticism it was riddled with administrative problems, with the Environmental Audit Committee branding the government’s domestic decarbonisation support as being “woefully inadequate”.

Other schemes to target energy efficiency include the Mayor of London’s £51 million Warmer Homes scheme, which supports the rollout of energy efficiency technologies including insulation, ventilation and heat pumps across the capital.

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