Thursday, 23 October 2014

Letter calls for minister to give social landlords access to eco-subsidies

Firms line up with green deal concerns

A group of leading companies including major high street retailers Marks & Spencer and Homebase have called on the government to amend its flagship retrofit scheme so social landlords are not excluded from subsidy to tackle fuel poverty.

Green light logo

Inside Housing can reveal that a heavyweight consortium of would-be green deal providers has written a private letter to climate change minister Greg Barker warning that the amendment, alongside a range of other improvements, is essential if its scheme is to succeed.

Under the £14 billion green deal, households will receive energy-efficiency works at no upfront cost and the government hopes private companies, including those behind the letter, will fund this and recoup costs from households through resulting savings in energy bills.

Currently, landlords won’t have access to the affordable warmth pot of the £1.3 billion energy company obligation subsidy intended to help the estimated 6.3 million households in fuel poverty - even though social tenants are among the most vulnerable and despite the fact they pay for the subsidy through their energy bills.

Signatories from the green deal providers group are thought to include retail giants Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Homebase alongside social landlords such as 56,000-home Affinity Sutton.

The 22-strong group, which is also made up of other potential green deal providers such as Tesco and Birmingham Council, are understood to have agreed with the recommended change to ECO - although some, such as B&Q did not sign the letter.

The letter also flagged up concerns about the pricing of green deal finance, incentives to make it attractive, the costs of accreditation and burdens of red tape - as well as calling for a wider range of measures available to ECO, improved consumer protection and its simplification.

The letter was written by the UK Green Building Council on behalf of the group to coincide with Wednesday’s green deal consultation deadline.

In its response, the National Housing Federation said it was ‘vital’ social landlords could access affordable warmth funding. It added that 85 per cent of social housing stock could also be left ineligible for ECO subsidy due to the restrictions over eligible measures for the ‘hard to treat’ pot.

Inside Housing’s Green Light campaign demands equal access to green subsidies for social landlords.

Readers' comments (3)

  • It is a bit of a cheek for Housing Associations to go with a begging bowl.

    Housing Association have built lots of homes, so why did they think of fuel poverty when they built them? A lot of their properties are still new. It costs only a few pounds to add extra insulation during the "construction" stage of house building. However retrofitting is a very expensive job, since you may need to decant the tenant to carry out some works.

    The Housing Association are begging in the name of the "vunerable", but many have announced they want to rent to private tenants at market rents. So let them fund it out those profits.

    The Government has only a small pot. Housing associations will only sqander the money, as the same job appears to cost double. The same tradesmen I use, are working for housing association as sub-contractors....

    The Housing Associations have had their pot of gold under Decent Housing Standards, it is about time the Government helped private owner occupiers.... Many owner-occupied don't meet Descent Home Standard...

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  • Rick Campbell

    My landlord, a housing association via LSVT inheritted a lot of old properties and have only built 8 new properties in 5 years although there will be around 170 over the next 3 years or so (funded by 'Affordable ' Rent, £3.7m grant and £20m borrowing).

    As I understand it, our DHSplus was funded via borrowing as it was a major part of our improvement programme -- and we hit the target of 100 and remain on target as time rolls on. Improvements are ongoing.

    Our HA even paid for its own photovoltaic programme.

    Not all HAs get their hands on a crock of gold -- some get their hands on a crock of a different substance.

    I gather that it was many ALMOs who got the crock of gold.

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  • Rick Campbell

    CL, as you may be aware, I am not a demoniser of private landlords as the majority of ones I have met/dealt with are OK and provide a darned good service for the rents they receive.

    They would perhaps welcome government subsidy in attaining DHS but nevertheless carry on and bear the brunt of the costs themselves.

    I can imagine the hue and cry on these pages if the government were to dole out DHS funding to private landlords albeit if it allowed the introduction of rent capping on properties in the private sector.

    Government provides subsidies for home insulation to all householders do they not? I am not sure that it applies to householders in rented accommodation as I think that the landlord would be entitled to such grant.

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