Agenda item

Decarbonisation of the Council’s Housing Stock


The meeting resumed at 20:15hrs


The Chair invited Councillor Yates to speak under Council procedure Rule 20.1 Councillor Yates thanked officers for the successful bid of £4.3 million decarbonisation fund that was made by the Housing Team.


Sally O’Sullivan, Tenant & Leaseholder Services Manager, led the discussion and made the following points:


  • This was a strategy for how Tenant and Leaseholder Services (TLS) would reduce greenhouse gas emission, to ensure the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Housing stock supported the government's aims for decarbonisation and meeting net zero by 2050. It linked into the Council’s Net Zero strategy. This strategy was especially important because of the way it would affect council tenants, many of whom were in fuel poverty. The adoption of this strategy would lead to the following:


1.  Reduction of fuel consumption for our residents, making their homes warmer and more comfortable using less energy;

2.  The work to be carried out would be highly disruptive and residents would have to learn how to live in a different way or use new technologies;

3.  The new build properties that would come into the social housing stock would already be high performing and council officers would need to ensure they can demonstrate to tenants how this could be achieved.


  • The strategy provided information on the expectation of the performance of newbuilds but its main focus was on current stock that was poorly performing;
  • Firstly, it examined the data that the council already had and what could be done to add onto this current information about the council properties. There was a need to come up with a plan to improve on the data currently held by the council as such information underpinned the Council’s efforts for prioritising the programme for retrofitting the Current council stock;
  • This strategy had three objects and these were to:


1.  Get all properties to Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) C by 2030;

2.  Reduce energy consumption for residents;

3.  Offset carbon emissions.


  • To achieve these objectives, there were three principles to work by and these were:


1.  Tackle the council’s worst performing properties first;

2.  Fabric First, No Regrets - this would mean that the council would ensure that its homes were well insulated first as this had an immediate impact on the residents fuel consumption. Once this was in place would be in a better position to find a clean heat solution that compliments the building. That would mean the council would have no regrets on what would already have been done and not have to redo any previous works;

3.  And to have meaningful resident involvement.


·  It was predicted that it would cost the council £40 Million to achieve the Net Zero target;

·  A further £4 million was required for professional fees;

·  Therefore, the Council was going to try and tap into as much funding as possible. Currently officers were exploring such finding streams as Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF), (Energy Company Obligation (ECO4), Local Authority Delivery (LAD) scheme and Home Upgrade Grant (HUG);

·  The Council also knew that it had to act now to achieve our targets and there was an opportunity to apply for funding from the social housing decarbonisation fund;

·  An application was submitted for £4 million and this would need to be match funded by the Council by a further £4 million;

·  The council also applied to carry out works to five of our six tower blocks, which were expected to achieve an EPC C & B in all properties;

·  This was a highly ambitious project that would include the replacement of the EWI, cyclical, structural and fire safety works and this was being funded by Homes England. The estimated total value of this project was about £25 million;

·  Officers had decided to start with the tower blocks for a number of reasons that included the following:

·  The trajectory pledges to complete a full retrofit of the tower blocks by 2028;

·  Tower blocks had suffered from a lack of investment over the last 10 years, meaning that they were the worst performing council properties, not just for EPC’s but for Antisocial Behaviour (ASB) and complaints as well. They looked tired and it was hard to make them look clean;

·  The council had been awarded pre tender funding for the replacement External Wall Insulation (EWI), and these should be replaced to ensure TDC remained eligible for the remainder of the funding. Homes England had been consulted and had expressed satisfaction with the council’s progress to date.


Officers had elected the bid and delivery route for the following reasons:


1.  No one in the team has bid writing skills or the capacity to complete the requirements of the bid;

2.  We need to deliver the project by March 2025 or we will have to pay back the awarded funding.


·  Therefore the appointment of bid and deliver partner fulfilled both criteria. The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee required assurance that TDC had the capacity for the delivery and supply chain in place, because the tight turnaround time did not allow for a full procurement exercise;


  • Mears approached TDC and offered this service. The council agreed to partner with Mears for a number of reasons that included the following:


1.  There was already a good relationship between Mears and TDC;

2.  Mears had good knowledge of council stock and tenants - especially with regards to the tower blocks that were highly complex buildings;

3.  Mears were successful in securing funding in wave 1 for other local authorities. This gave the council greater confidence in Mears bid writers. The council was also pleased with progress Mears were making to deliver against their commitments;

4.  Other providers that were approached did not give the council the same level of commitment as Mears.


  • The Council had also engaged a consultant that would provide a value for money report.


Members made comments and asked questions as follows:


  • One Members said that it was good to know that the council was addressing its worst performing buildings first;
  • Would owners/occupiers be levied for these improvements? The leaseholders Services team provided an exemplary service to tenants by providing all the information required by Members to deliberate on matters;
  • Another member welcomed the use of apprenticeships and local contractors;
  • Members also thanked officers for the work done to putting together the report with significant detail;
  • Another Members asked who was responsible for conducting EPC ratings on council properties;
  • They further asked why the EPC information was missing;
  • They also asked what would be done to address that issue;
  • EPCs had been a legal requirement since 2007. Why would the council not train its own officers to conduct such ratings?


Sally O’Sullivan and Bob Porter responded to comments from Members as follows:


  • This report would also be going to cabinet for decision on 15 December 2022;
  • A detailed scope of work for the tower blocks particularly the heating system was currently not available. However once that information had been made available a report would be taken to cabinet for decision at a later stage;
  • Officers were confident that leaseholders would not be levied for works on the external wall insulation. However they would be charged for the works on the internal walls insulation;
  • The council would assist households by looking for finance for these internal walls insulation works;
  • A new grant scheme for households struggling with energy costs went to cabinet. This is one source that could be used for internal walls insulation works;
  • The missing EPC information was a legacy from the East Kent Housing. £60K had been allocated for the improvement of data in this area;
  • A data asset officer was currently working on inputting data into the system;
  • Officers carried out an analysis about having an in-house EPC service and concluded that that it was better to have it as an externally sourced service as it took a while to conduct EPCs.


Councillor Jill Bayford, Cabinet Member for Housing thanked officers for work, particularly for the successful submission of bids.


Members noted the report.

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