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On 19th October 2021, the UK government announced the launch of its Heat and Buildings Strategy, the aim of which is to support the uptake of energy efficient, low carbon technologies. It should be worth an estimated £3.9 billion, if it continues as scheduled for a full three years.

Introducing the policy paper, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy writes:

“The heat and buildings strategy sets out the government’s plan to significantly cut carbon emissions from the UK’s 30 million homes and workplaces in a simple, low-cost and green way whilst ensuring this remains affordable and fair for households across the country. Like the transition to electric vehicles, this will be a gradual transition which will start by incentivizing consumers and driving down costs.”

The paper notes that:

  • There are approximately 30 million buildings in the UK, and they account for almost a quarter of all UK emissions.
  • Work to reduce carbon emissions “can not only save money on energy bills and improve lives, but can support up to 240,000 skilled green jobs by 2035, boosting the economic recovery.”
  • The strategy is part of the government’s plan to meet the UK’s carbon targets and remain on track for ‘net zero’ by 2050.

The full text of the strategy (PDF format) can be downloaded here.

Many media headlines have focused on the launch of a new fund known as “The Boiler Upgrade Grant”, which aims to incentivise the use of air source heat pumps, with payments of up to £5,000 per household. However, as the National Insulation Association reports in its latest newsletter:

“More significantly, a support package is being reconfirmed for energy efficiency as follows:

  • The Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) will benefit from £950 million between 2022-2025
  • The Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) will benefit from £800 million.”

These funding streams support the preferred ‘fabric-first’ approach to energy efficiency, and will enable social housing providers to commission a much wider range of vital works.

The strategy document includes an important note about the fabric-first approach, saying:

“Improving energy efficiency by adopting a fabric-first approach is key in ensuring that the transition to low carbon heating is cost-effective and resilient. ‘Fabric-first’ means focusing on installing measures that upgrade the building fabric (e.g. walls/lofts) itself before making changes to the heating system. We are committed to supporting businesses and households to upgrade as many buildings as possible to higher levels of energy efficiency and flexibility, in a way that will ensure long-term compatibility with low-carbon heating systems.”

Derek Horrocks, chair of SBS and of the NIA, welcomed the announcement, saying:

“The funding associated with the new strategy will work alongside existing streams such as ECO, and collectively, they could support around £1.5 billion of badly-needed improvement works every year for the next three years.

“That’s obviously good news for homeowners and social landlords, for the country’s progress towards carbon reduction targets, and for the energy efficiency industry as a whole. Longer term commitments – in this case, up to 2023 – enable the industry to invest and to grow with more confidence, and that’s important for building the UK’s capacity to deliver these much-needed improvement schemes, now and into the future.”

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To address some of the issues arising from this news, we have also produced a Q&A article featuring SBS Group Director, Gary Lawson. In it, he discusses the implications for social housing providers and other groups, and how procurement will work in tandem with new quality assurance measures such as the Trustmark scheme and the new PAS standards.

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