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Baker Homes Blog

Five ways housing associations can make the business case for improving homes

Posted by John Stapleton on 24-Apr-2015 07:30:00

Progress on improving the energy efficiency of housing association homes has slowed in the last few years. Much of the ‘low hanging fruit’ such as cavity wall insulation has been done and funding from ECO has all but dried up. This and other government support has meant many landlords who are undertaking improvement works do not factor in funding, lest it is withdrawn at short notice. What should we do about this? Stop investing? Or wait for the next round of government funding?

Neither. Too many housing associations have adopted a binary approach – fixing the roof whilst the sun shines but ceasing work when the tap is turned off. This is a gross over simplification of course. But here are five ways that housing associations can build a better business case:

  1. Work with others. Warm Homes Oldham, have partnered with the NHS, improving homes and reducing hospital admissions;
  2. Recoup some investment. Residents could potentially make a small contribution from savings on bills after work has been undertaken to improve viability;
  3. Think laterally. Anecdotally, we know that arrears and voids are reduced for properties that have been improved;
  4. Use alternative finance. A ‘green energy bond’ is being launched this year, tailored specifically for retrofit projects. It aims to raise £5bn for green retrofit and new build. Keep a watch on this;
  5. Put a value on it. Refurbishing 200 flats can save a potential 10,000 tonnes of carbon. The Treasury puts a value on this of £853,000. Making these points can greatly strengthen your Value for Money statements.

Not all of these – such as contributions through rent – are easy to do at present, not least because of regulatory constraints. But if the sector shows it is willing to take the initiative and look for additional ways of funding improvements it is likely to receive a more sympathetic hearing from government.

In the longer term, housing associations can also help build the case by engaging in wider agendas. So it’s vital they are seen to be playing a part in their communities, looking beyond just the stock that they own. Undertaking retrofit projects is much more cost-effective if it is done at scale, ‘street-by-street’ and across tenure.

SHIFT members Orbit Group and Nottingham City Homes are pioneering this approach and demonstrating that it is possible, whilst there is increasing interest in Holland’s Energiesprong pilot.

Over time, and as the arguments stack up, housing associations can look to secure funding which enables them to bring other tenures in an area on-board whilst improving their own stock at a much more cost-effective price – surely a win-win for the UK’s homes.

Baker Homes is working hard to help make this easier for members. Join SHIFT the sectors sustainability accreditation to independently verify your performance, stay informed and help make this happen.

This blog first appeared on the National Housing Federation website on 10th March 2015.

 

Our next Breakfast at Baker Homes event brings together products, funding opportunities, case studies and innovative energy options that can help your organisation further reduce energy bills and carbon emissions.
Join us and our expert panel for a morning of discussion, debate and DANISHES!

Baker Homes, Making the business case for retrofit, social landlords, financing retrofit, retrofit policy

Topics: Retrofit, Housing Associations, SHIFT members, Funding, Energy

On 10th June, we welcome you to our national conference 'Making the business case for retrofit' Hear from registered landlords on their success, new financing options for major works and the new government's prospects. For more information and to register click here.



Baker Homes, Making the business case for retrofit, social landlords, financing retrofit, retrofit policy

 

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