Around three quarters (74%) of housing associations say a lack of funding is the biggest barrier to rolling out a national retrofitting programme for social housing, according to new research from the NHF (National Housing Federation).
The NHF study has identified the major obstacles that more than 70 housing associations currently face in an effort to make their homes more sustainable and energy efficient.
Alongside funding challenges, over half of respondents (56%) reported that a lack of clarity in government policy was making it difficult to plan effectively or with confidence.
The challenge of investing in energy efficiency improvements while also addressing other priorities like building-safety remediation and Coronavirus support was deemed a barrier by 40% of respondents.
Housing associations also reported concerns around capacity in supply chains (34%) and a lack of retrofit strategy or plan in their organisation (22%).
Despite these barriers, housing associations already have a strong track record on climate action.
Many run warm homes programmes and develop new-builds that exceed current energy efficiency requirements – social housing makes up 17% of the UK’s housing stock but produces only 10% of the carbon emissions from housing.
The Homes at the Heart campaign – run jointly by the NHF, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), National Federation of ALMOs, Association of Retained Council Housing, and Crisis – is highlighting the role decarbonisation can play in tackling not just the climate crisis, but the economic impact of Coronavirus.
According to the CIH, Retrofitting homes with measures such as heat pumps and better insulation, as well as building new properties to high energy-efficiency standards, will create jobs and promote investment in infrastructure – as well as help tackle the climate emergency.
Commenting on the research, Rob Wall, Head of Policy at the NHF, said: “Housing associations are eager to play their part in tackling the urgent threat of the climate crisis – but without further funding and policy clarity from government these ambitions will be difficult to achieve.
“Greater certainty on funding and policy will allow housing associations to make long term plans for both decarbonising their existing stock and building new homes to higher energy efficiency standards.
“Recent funding announcements are welcome. But the National Housing Federation hopes to see the government commit to a £3.8bn 10-year Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, as they committed to in their 2019 manifesto.
“This money, with a policy roadmap for standards, targets and requirements, will mean the government and social housing providers can work together to reach the UK’s target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
The NHF’s research on barriers to retrofitting was conducted in August 2020. In total, there were 79 total responses from housing associations that took part in the survey, with 73 answering the questions on barriers to retrofitting.
Organisations were of different sizes, with medium-sized organisations (between 10,000 -19,999 homes) most represented.
Organisations were based in each region of England, though this spread was not even, with most respondents’ head offices based in London.
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