UK Housing Minister Grant Shapps has unveiled a pioneer development project that will pave the way for the green transformation of Britain’s social homes making them warmer and more comfortable to live in, and at the same time cheaper to run.
In the largest scheme of this kind to date, improvements such as solid wall insulation and better heating systems will be made to 9,000 social homes in Manchester to make them more energy efficient.
The cost of the work will be paid upfront by the housing association, tenants will then meet this cost through the money they save on energy bills, which could be up to £500 per year. The project could create more than 1,800 jobs and bring a £100 million boost to local businesses carrying out the home improvements.
The project will test key features of the Green Deal, the Government’s new and radical way of making energy efficiency available to all, whether people that own or rent their property. Under the Green Deal, which will begin next year, the expected cash savings for homeowners and tenants will be greater than the costs to upgrade the property over the lifetime of the improvements.
Upgrades will initially be made to 2,500 properties within the Greater Manchester Housing Retrofit Programme, and will prepare the way for Greater Manchester’s 260,000 social homes to take up the Green Deal.
‘With homes counting for a quarter of all UK emissions, we must and can do more to make our homes greener. That’s why we’re nailing down a zero carbon approach so tough new green standards can come into effect from 2016,’ said Shapps.
‘But we also want to upgrade existing housing stock so everyone can enjoy the benefits of warmer homes and lower energy bills. That’s why I’m delighted to announce for the first time, a large scale project to upgrade thousands of social homes,’ he explained.
‘The scheme in Manchester will save tenants hundreds of pounds on energy bills, and create hundreds of jobs for local people. It shows that going green is not just an environmental necessity; it’s also a huge economic opportunity for UK companies to expand their businesses, and become world leaders in the shift to a low carbon economy,’ he added.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said that tenants in Manchester are getting an advance preview of key elements of the Green Deal. ‘They’re going to feel the real benefit of warmer and comfier homes at the same time as cutting their energy bills. I want the Green Deal to work for everyone, whether people own or rent their home. In twenty first century Britain, no one should have to put up with draughty and cold homes,’ he added.
Manchester’s pioneering scheme will provide a valuable model for upgrading the country’s 3.8 million households in the social rented sector, which account for nearly 20% of all households in England.
The retrofit project will act as a beacon for both investors and other social housing providers in demonstrating the vast potential for Green Deal investment in that sector. By 2015 up to 100,000 Green Deal workers could be employed nationally in the effort to upgrade Britain’s homes. Currently around 27,000 work in the insulation industry.
Legislation to start the process of establishing the Green Deal is currently before Parliament. Improving the energy efficiency of homes will also make a large contribution to reducing carbon emissions. Homes count for around a quarter of all UK emissions and the majority of people waste money through energy bills.