Landlords feel unprepared for the green deal
The majority of social landlords feel unprepared for the government’s flagship programme to carry out energy efficiency refurbishments of Britain’s housing, despite it kicking off in just five months’ time.
An exclusive survey of 127 social landlords carried out by Sustainable Housing and contractor Willmott Dixon reveals that, even though the green deal is scheduled for a ‘soft launch’ in October, most of the respondents are unprepared and unsure of the benefits of the government’s flagship retrofit scheme.
Under the green deal, households can have energy efficiency measures such as insulation installed at no upfront cost by a green deal provider. The cost is paid back in instalments using the resulting energy savings through an extra charge on the property’s electricity bill.
Asked about their preparedness for the green deal, just a third scored their organisation as ‘highly’ or ‘very highly prepared’. This is despite one in three respondents saying that the green deal will be very important in achieving their goals for improving the energy efficiency of their stock.
Richard Griffiths, policy consultant at the UK Green Building Council, said: ‘There is just a lot of detail to be resolved and because of that, quite a lot of organisations are not quite thinking they can prepare for its arrival.’
More than 60 per cent of respondents said reducing fuel poverty or helping tenants save money on their heating bills was the most important reason for seeking to improve the energy performance of their stock. Another 10 per cent wanted to improve tenants’ quality of life. ‘To reduce fuel poverty and increase [the] benefit for our residents. Carbon reduction comes after this,’ was a typical comment.
But a significant minority of 41 per cent of respondents did not know how many of their tenants are in fuel poverty, and almost as many didn’t know how many of their homes are in need of an energy-saving retrofit.
David Adams, technical director at Willmott Dixon Energy Services, said this latter figure was unsurprising, as there were previously no policy incentives to carry out more difficult retrofit projects.
According to Communities and Local Government department statistics, 17 per cent of social housing tenants in England were in fuel poverty in 2011. But of those survey respondents who did know the levels of fuel poverty among their tenants, 60 per cent said the proportion who spend more than one tenth of their income on heating their home is actually above 20 per cent.
The survey also revels that most social landlords have still not decided on the role they will play when the green deal begins.
More than half of the social landlords that responded remain in limbo on whether or not they want to become a green deal provider. Under the government’s flagship retrofit policy, providers will organise both the retrofit of a home and the financing.
Housing association Gentoo, which has 29,500 homes, is among the first of a handful of organisations to commit to the provider role, but the survey results suggest they will be in the minority.
Far more respondents are planning to become facilitators of the green deal home retrofit programme, or partner with a green deal provider to offer retrofits of their stock.
Of those that are not already planning to become a provider, 48 per cent said their organisation might become facilitators, and 29 per cent would seek to partner up with a provider. Another 30 per cent of those who were not looking to become providers said their organisation will take no role for now.
‘It could be an attractive option, but it’s too soon to judge,’ said one respondent about financing its
retrofit programme under the green deal.
Of the 40 landlords which said they had a direct labour organisation, two thirds are assessing if they could carry out the retrofits.
41% of respondents don’t know how many of their tenants are in fuel poverty
39% of respondents don’t know how many of their properties need retrofit
70% of respondents already have an energy efficiency retrofit programme
11% of respondents will switch to funding retrofits through the green deal