Encouraging people to lead a noble life was one of the driving forces behind the work of social housing pioneer Octavia Hill. Reflections on her ambition and the extent to which we have achieved it (or not!) are relayed in a recent book by Octavia Housing Association. I would urge everyone to get it.
This is not such a fanciful idea. Although the planning system has been (euphemistically speaking) streamlined twice this year, it is still multi-layered. Boris and the GLA are looking to use the London Plan, the ‘spatial development strategy’ for the capital that provides for a strategic approach.
A replacement for ECO – but it’s far from generous
The Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) is due to end in March 2017. George Osborne announced a new replacement for the scheme will be introduced from April 2017, to run for five years with an annual budget of £640m. The as-yet unnamed replacement will be cheaper to run than ECO saving households an average of £30 per year from the portion of their bills which goes towards ‘green’ measures.
Good news. After a huge backlash and big job losses in the industry the Government has changed its proposals to cut the Feed in Tariff by 87%. Domestic tariffs will now be cut by 64% to 4.39p/kWh instead of the original cut to 1.63p/kWh. This is compared to a rate of 12p/kWh today. The new tariffs will come into force from 8 February, and the deadline for projects to receive the current higher tariffs is now 15 January.
We know that more energy efficient properties should mean fewer rental arrears and voids. Where rent arrears and voids are reduced this could have a positive impact on business plans. Equally investment in energy efficiency may not pay off.
Recent policy announcements have hit housing associations hard. Funding for energy efficiency projects is less certain and revenue from rents will be limited in future. As a result, ensuring every penny spent is doing as much as it can is of all the more importance.
The University of Oxford, City of Westminster and Future Climate are investigating energy improvements in private flats. A workshop was held on 17th March 2015 to examine the issue in more depth. The following summarises the workshop and thoughts of contributors on the day.
We recently released a summary of the performance of landlords in a number of areas. Lord Matthew Taylor provided a useful key note address illustrating some of the challenges faced by the sector and steps they could take to take charge of this agenda.
The new requirements flowing from the Energy Efficiency Directive seem to have caught many by surprise, and at our packed-out seminar in London, DECC announced that the deadline for notifications of communal systems was to be extended, from 30 April to 31 December 2015. All landlords who have the notification must include specified information such as the location, number and type of buildings and meters supplied, the number of customers, heating capacity and name and address of the ‘heat supplier’. This does not affect the other milestones, which remain December 2015 for completing the feasibility study and December 2016 for installing any necessary meters.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation today published new research into the cost of building more sustainable housing. It asked if sustainable homes could be built more cheaply, and compared a range of approaches.
DECC have announced the third release of its Green Deal Home Improvement Fund. From midday,Monday 16 March, new applicants will be able to apply for funding upto £5,600 per household in England and Wales.
At Sustainable Homes we like to promote the excellent work that our SHIFT members do to improve the environmental performance of their homes. First Wessex has recently carried out some innovative works on their homes. Guided by Paul Ciniglio, Sustainability & Asset Strategist, the team at First Wessex took us on a tour – this is what we saw.