P49 Social Karin Stockerl2
Karin Stockerl Executive Director of Assets and Sustainability

We’re committed to enhancing the safety and sustainability of our homes. However, we stand at a critical juncture where collaboration between government and housing associations is vital if we are to reach our joint goals in transforming older homes to modern standards. 

Safe, warm and comfortable homes

We’ve significantly increased investment programmes in our existing homes post-merger. We’ll invest a £3bn across our responsive, planned investment, building and fire safety, and net zero carbon programmes over the next 10 years. Over 25% of these costs are necessitated by new building safety standards introduced post-Grenfell as well as investment in our homes to make them more energy efficient.

Changes in rental income levels have, of course, not kept pace with inflationary pressures for labour and material costs. Nor have rent levels been designed to cover the cost of meeting new standards.

Where are we focusing our spend?

Last year investment across our communities included:

  • Fire Safety Actions: We completed 17,000 fire safety actions, ensuring residents’ safety and well-being
  • Comprehensive Inspections: Over 60,000 gas, electrical, and asbestos inspections for our residents’ safety
  • Broadband Connectivity: Over 45,000 of our homes are now connected to high-speed fibre broadband, bridging the digital divide
  • Life-Saving Alarms: Installing more than 110,000 smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
  • Home Upgrades: In over 12,000 homes, we upgraded either bathrooms, kitchens, windows, or roofing, or upgraded communal areas
  • Cladding Replacement: Addressing post-Grenfell requirements, we replaced external cladding in 16 high-rise blocks, with plans for 22 more in 2024/25.
  • EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) C Standards: Approximately 59,250 of our homes (around three quarters) already meet the government’s 2030 EPC C band target
  • Retrofitting: We’re committed to retrofitting homes to meet this target, focusing on the lowest-performing houses and bungalows. We’ve completed around 3,000 PAS 2035 retrofit assessments and have a retrofit programme of works under way.

A Call to Action

While we are proud of our achievements, we acknowledge the challenges ahead. We will continue to play a strong part in delivering energy efficient homes through our investment. But the estimated cost for decarbonising social housing nationally is around £36 billion on top of the £70 billion housing associations are committing already. 

Our plans to meet the 2030 target rely on government funding, practicality, affordability, and the cost-effectiveness of solutions – so there’s a range of asks we have of the next government that could help us achieve this.

  • Firstly, we believe the next government should provide a long-term funding commitment to deliver large-scale homes decarbonisation projects. This should build on the success of funding programmes likes the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund. At the moment, the supply chain is simply not capable of delivering all the upgrades required. A long-term funding commitment would provide our supply chain with the confidence necessary to invest in training and innovation to keep pace with delivering Government’s energy efficiency ambitions.
  • Secondly, we’d like to see the funding of cladding programmes extended to also cover rented homes. Too often we are not able to claim from third parties and current grant levels only cover the share for leaseholders’ properties excluding most of our costs for blocks as these contain affordable rented homes. This impacts our ability to build new homes and the speed of regenerating our existing estates, but also slows down our programmes to upgrade the energy efficiency of our existing homes.

The next government will have a lot on their plate in their first year – but providing a warm, safe, and comfortable home for everyone should, in our view, be at the very top of their list.

 

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