The National Housing Federation (NHF) is in talks with the government about changing the rules of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) to enable housing associations to bid directly.
Last month, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published information about the SHDF, which will be worth £3.8bn over 10 years.
It confirmed that for the first wave of the fund, which is intended to pay for energy-efficiency upgrades to the country’s draughtiest social rented homes, “housing associations will not be able to directly apply”.
Instead, housing associations will have to apply for grant “as part of a local authority-led bid”, as was the case for the £62m SHDF Demonstrator project launched last year.
But Will Jeffwitz, head of policy at the NHF, told Inside Housing: “The Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund is a hugely welcome intervention from the government on our sector’s road to net zero.
“We’ve had constructive conversations with BEIS about the importance of housing associations being able to bid directly into the fund, and we’re confident that this will be possible once the major waves of funding get underway from next year.”
The first wave of the SHDF, worth £160m, will be launched in the autumn, with funded projects delivering up to March 2023.
BEIS confirmed that it intends the SHDF to be open for direct applications from all social housing providers in future waves.
A spokesperson for the department said: “The UK has a strong track record in improving the energy performance of its homes, with 40% now rated energy rating band C – up from just 9% in 2008.
“We are committed to going further and faster, and we continue to work closely with all parts of the social housing sector as part of our plans to deliver warmer, more energy-efficient homes, reduce fuel bills and tackle fuel poverty.”
Further information on the autumn bidding window is set for publication this summer.
A Technical Assistance Facility, initially worth £3.45m and administered by the Greater London Authority, is being set up by BEIS to help social landlords with their bids.
The government has committed to reaching net zero carbon by 2050, with improving the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock a key part of the challenge.
It claims the SHDF will “upgrade a significant amount of the social housing stock currently below energy performance certificate (EPC) C up to that standard”.
The Climate Change Committee, which advises government policy relating to its 2050 target, warned in a report last month that an “ambitious heat and buildings strategy that works for consumers is urgently needed”.
It has called on ministers to speed up proposals to amend building regulations to address overheating risk in new homes and to take further steps over the issue for existing vulnerable and lower-income households, including targeted public funding.
Last year, the committee recommended that the government bring forward its target to bring all social housing up to EPC C by 2030 by two years.
Contractor Engie recently revealed it is involved in a quarter of the projects which received funding through the SHDF Demonstrator, which is intended to test approaches to retrofitting social housing on around 2,300 homes.
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