Cabinet considered the decarbonisation proposals for the Council’s housing stock. This included looking at the Journey to Net Zero strategy document. This was the strategy and approach that was intended to reduce greenhouse gas emission from the Council’s social housing stock. It supported the government's aims for decarbonisation by achieving net zero by 2050 and linked into the Council’s adopted Net Zero Strategy. This strategy would have a high impact on the tenants as it would reduce fuel consumption, making Council homes warmer and more comfortable using less energy.
The work that would be carried out would be disruptive for tenants, who would also need to learn how to use their homes and new technologies installed differently. This was already the case with the new build programme, where officers needed to ensure they could show tenants how to make the most of the features installed in their home. This document touched on the expectation of the performance of newbuilds but its main focus was on the Council’s current housing stock that was less energy efficient.
The strategy has three objectives, these were to:
The objectives were underpinned by three principles, which were:
It was predicted that the overall cost of decarbonisation would be around £40 million. Therefore Cabinet was exploring different funding opportunities such as the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, Energy Company Obligation, Local Authority Delivery Scheme and Home Upgrade Grant. Plans were already in action as there was an opportunity to bid for funding in the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund in Wave 2.1.
The Council had applied for funding for retrofit works to five of the six tower blocks. The proposed works would see all flats in these blocks achieve an EPC rating of C or B. The bid, for around £4 million, would if successful, form part of an ambitious programme of refurbishment, with a total value of around £22 million, including further funding coming from Homes England for the replacement of external wall insulation and contributions from the Council’s approved Housing Capital Programme.
Cabinet proposed to partner with Mears, appointed through a compliant procurement framework, for the delivery of the programme, and Mears had provided significant expertise to support the bid process. The early identification of a delivery partner also added weight to the bid submission and ensured the deliverability of the proposals. Mears were already the Council’s partnering contractor for responsive repairs and had a track record of delivering decarbonisation projects.
If the Council was not successful with the Social Housing Decarbonisation bid, there was still a need to replace the External Wall Insulation, with funding from Homes England, but it would be far better, and more cost effective to complete these programmes simultaneously. Once the full scope of works for the programme was known, a further report would be considered by Cabinet, prior to entering into contract.
Councillor Jill Bayford proposed, Councillor David Saunders seconded and Cabinet agreed the following:
1. To approve the adoption of the Journey to Net Zero - A Decarbonisation Strategy for the Council’s Housing Stock;
2. To note the submission of the bid for Wave 2.1 Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) bid and the proposed approach to project delivery, subject to a further report to Cabinet once the full scope of the works to the tower blocks is known.