Rishi Sunak’s government has been urged to retrofit England’s social housing stock, as a new report found energy-efficiency measures would save tenants £700m a year.
If England’s council and housing association homes were insulated and draft-proofed, energy bills would be cut by 42 per cent and residents would save £567 a year on average, it found.
The National Housing Federation (NHF) research said a major retrofit scheme to fix some of the country’s leakiest homes would benefit the environment and ease the cost of living crisis.
Kate Henderson, chief executive of the NHF, said: “Not only are poorly insulated homes one of the country’s biggest environmental polluters, they have now become a major culprit of the cost of living crisis.”
She said some social tenants were losing as much as two months’ worth of pay on energy costs a year, with some forced to make impossible choices – such as getting into debt to keep the power on.
Social residents in the least efficient homes are spending 15.5 per cent of their income on heating, the NHF report found.
Housing associations in England plan to spend £70bn on retrofitting social homes in the coming decades. However, the NHF – the umbrella body for housing associations – estimates that it will cost a further £36bn to retrofit all their homes and meet the government’s 2050 net zero target.
With only £1bn of the £3.8bn promised by the Conservative manifesto to decarbonise social housing committed, the organisation called on Mr Sunak to release the full now to help social landlords plan ahead.
“Decarbonising social homes is a win-win solution, and the faster it can be done, the greater the benefits for residents and the environment,” said Ms Henderson. Councils and housing associations … need the long-term funding in place so they can ramp up the scale and speed of these programmes.”
The UK is one of the very worst countries in Europe when it comes to the energy efficiency of homes, according to a recent report by the Institute for Government (IfG) think tank – warning that the energy crisis could be worse next winter without a major insulation programme.
Mr Sunak and his chancellor Jeremy Hunt are said to be considering further energy bill support in April “in line” with existing cost of living payments.
That £15bn package included £400 direct payments for every household and £650 for those on benefits – but it is not clear if the universal scheme for all households will continue.
Meanwhile, millions of people on low incomes will start to receive payments of £324 into their bank accounts from Tuesday 8 November as part of the government’s cost of living support.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will start making the payments as the second part of a £650 sum.
DWP claimants – including those on universal credit, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance, pension credit, child tax credit and working tax credit – should generally receive their second payments by 23 November.
There is no need for people to apply or do anything to receive it, so people should watch out for texts or emails from scammers inviting them to make applications.