Housing and Carbon Reduction
- Meeting of Housing and Homelessness Panel (Panel of the Scrutiny Committee), Wednesday 6 October 2021 6.00 pm (Item 13.)
- View the background to item 13.
The Scrutiny Committee agreed earlier in the year the topics it wished to commission reports on. One of these reports was on the relationship between the Council’s Housing function and Carbon Reduction. Malcolm Peek, Property Services Manager, will be presenting this report.
Also invited to this meeting to contribute are Councillor Diko Blackings, Cabinet Member for Affordable Housing, Housing Security and Housing the Homeless, CouncillorMike Rowley, Cabinet Member for Citizen Focused Services, Stephen Clarke, Head of Housing. Stephen Gabriel, newly appointed Executive Director of Communities and People will be attending to watch.
The Panel is asked to consider the report, and NOTE it, having AGREED any necessary recommendations to Cabinet arising from it.
**NB This report is to follow and will be issued as a supplement.**
Malcolm Peek, Property Services Manager, presented a Panel-requested report on Housing and the Low Carbon Agenda.
The Council had a target of ensuring 95% of its homes were rated no lower than a C on EPC ratings by 2030. Some government funding was being used to support this, with Local Authority Delivery and Social Housing Decarbonisation Funds being accessed as available. The bulk of the work was progressing, however, without government funding and a budget of £7m was available to 2030 to cover the work required to bring approximately 2500 Council-owned homes up to a C rating. Current focus was on procuring external expert advice on the works required, which would then be profiled into a programme. Surveys were anticipated to be completed by March 2022. Typical solutions would include lighting solutions, internal and external insulation, draft-proofing, solar and installation of heat pumps.
In response to the presentation the Panel raised a number of issues. One key issue discussed was that of engagement with residents, particularly for those who struggle with digital access. Given the potentially radical changes to some tenants’ homes Housing Services were keen to run a full and accessible engagement programme, which had already been planned and budgeted. This would be in addition to the existing work of the Council’s staff dedicated to advising tenants on possible measures to address fuel poverty. The issue of fuel poverty was an important consideration in the approach to housing retrofitting, with a focus on fabric first changes to raise energy efficiency without transferring from gas to electric heating, thereby avoiding the significant increases in fuel costs. Team members on the project were mindful of the complexity involved in ensuring different measures worked together and did not raise other issues such as damp. It was noted by the Panel that changes to properties could have a fundamental impact on the way that tenants live and enjoy their properties, as well as there being a wide variety of possible offerings around finishings, which it would want to see tenants involved with. Tenant involvement in the process would be critical, at both the level of individual homes and representative levels on wider issues. The level of consultation required and the complexity of the works meant it was very difficult to know at the current stage what proportion of the properties improved would be raised to EPC levels beyond a C grading.
The possibility of additional central government funding was explored by the Panel. It was hoped that there would indeed be further central government funding. However, such funding often came with tight criteria in terms of the works and timeframes involved. The Council would be proactive in looking for opportunities to access such funding but its specificity meant that external funding would not the main determinant of the Council’s plans as it would be unlikely to meet the Council’s own targets for energy efficiency.
Disruption for tenants during works was an issue of concern for the Panel. Much of the work, such as loft insulation and new windows could be done with residents in situ. Though before getting feedback on the works required it was difficult to say with certainty it was expected there would be very little decanting required to enable works to occur, and any such changes would be done in consultation with tenants.
It was AGREED to make the following recommendations to Cabinet:
1) That the Council works with the Tenant Involvement Team to ensure tenant engagement is sought and incorporated into the Council’s work plans for improving the energy efficiency of its housing stock at the earliest stage. Areas of engagement to include both work with individual households and multi-household representatives for wider-ranging issues/
2) That the Council makes specific provision to support those with disabilities or mental health problems to engage in discussions about the most appropriate changes to their homes.
- Housing and Carbon Reduction, item 13. PDF 229 KB View as DOCX (13./1) 170 KB
- Appendix 1 - Council homes decarb campaign plan, item 13. PDF 137 KB View as DOCX (13./2) 17 KB