Hundreds more households will enjoy cheaper energy bills thanks to green upgrades after Leeds City Council secured £16.8 million to progress its plans to deliver climate-friendly housing across the city.
The funding will enable the council to kick start the delivery of its new Net Zero Homes Plan, which sets out actions the local authority will take to install low carbon heating and tackle heat loss from Leeds’ residential buildings.
Last week, senior councillors approved the document which sets out blueprints for how the council can work with the private sector, community groups, and government to enable every Leeds household to access property improvements that make homes healthier, more environmentally friendly, and cheaper to live in.
Studies have shown that British homes are among the least energy efficient in Europe making them harder to keep at a comfortable temperature and more expensive to heat or cool.
One-in-six (17.6%) Leeds households were classed as living in fuel poverty in 2020, officially defined as living in a relatively inefficient home and having an income below the poverty line once energy bills are paid for.
Better insulating Leeds’ buildings to tackle heat loss—alongside other measures to improve energy efficiency—will help to reduce fuel poverty and carbon emissions simultaneously.
Councillor Helen Hayden, Executive Member for Infrastructure and Climate, said:
“The Net Zero Homes plan is our blueprint to help end Leeds’ contribution to climate change by making our homes better: meaning they are more affordable, healthier, greener, and more comfortable to live in.
“From Holbeck to Holt Park, high-rise to homeowner, our actions have shown that helping Leeds’ households save money and energy has long been a priority for this council.
“I am proud that this ambitious new plan goes further and thinks bigger—setting out how the council can work with partners locally, regionally, and nationally to help every household in Leeds enjoy the benefits of living in a climate-friendly home.”
New advice service and innovative financing offer for green home upgrades
A key commitment within the Net Zero Homes Plan is to establish a simple one-stop-shop hub with council partners for homeowners and landlords to get trusted, tailored advice on the benefits of installing different green upgrades.
As well as educating residents, the service will also be able to recommend trusted contractors and will eventually offer property-linked finance options from private sector partners.
Property-linked finance is an innovative type of loan that is already widely used in the USA and Australia. It enables homeowners to pay for energy efficiency upgrades over time and transfer any debt to future homebuyers when selling a property.
Development of the new service will be accelerated thanks to a range of grants recently secured by the council including £100,000 from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to support customer engagement and product research as well as £50,000 from the MCS Charitable Foundation to create additional capacity within the council.
David Cowdrey, Director of External Affairs at MCS Charitable Foundation, said:
“Leeds City Council is pioneering in its efforts to make old houses fit for the future on a mass scale. Cities like Leeds need long-term investment from the Government to help retrofit houses to be more energy-efficient, warmer, and cheaper to run, and that investment requires sustainable planning at council level.”
Hundreds of low-income households to benefit from £15.5 million scheme offering subsidised home improvements to tackle fuel poverty
While the majority of privately owned and rented properties in the city could potentially benefit from the new one-stop-shop hub or similar services, thousands of homeowners in Leeds will still require additional support. This includes those on the lowest incomes who are the most likely to experience fuel poverty.
Leeds City Council has experience delivering energy efficiency schemes aimed at helping residents at risk of fuel poverty. Last year, more than 900 households living in some of Leeds’ oldest and coldest homes benefited from a £9.5 million retrofit scheme.
As part of its Net Zero Homes Plan, the council will continue building the case for additional funding to support Leeds’ homeowners that are least able to afford money-saving green upgrades.
The council has now secured up to £15.5 million to deliver a new scheme to upgrade properties not connected to the gas grid, it announced today.
Around 750 mostly privately owned or rented households on low incomes are expected to benefit from measures to cut energy bills by 2025 as a result of the new funding.
Eligible residents will be able to apply for free installations of insulation products, solar panels, or low carbon heating technologies. Landlords of eligible properties will also be able to apply for heavily subsidised installations of the same improvements.
More information about the scheme including full eligibility criteria will be published soon. The new funding has been secured from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero’s ‘Home Upgrade Grant’ fund.
£3.1 million green heat pump scheme will save high-rise residents estimated £600 on energy bills
Leeds City Council is the second largest local authority in the country and the largest housing provider in Leeds. The Net Zero Homes Plan recognises the vital importance of the council ensuring that it’s own 54,000 rented homes are also made fit for the future.
In 2021 the council committed to investing £100 million in green improvements for existing council properties by the middle of this decade. It is on track to meet this target. Many of these projects have already been completed. They include 150 council-owned flats in Holt Park that are now among the most energy efficient properties in the country (with tenants enjoying energy bills 70% less) following a £9 million ‘whole house’ upgrade scheme that completed last year.
Tenants in the Clayton Grange and Clayton Court high-rise blocks in Kirkstall will be the next to benefit from green upgrades, the council has today confirmed, with each flat expected to save approximately £600 per year on energy bills as a result of a new decarbonisation project.
120 properties in the two blocks are to be connected to innovative ground source heat pumps after the council secured another £1.0 million from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero’s ‘Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund’ this week. The council will add £2.1 million of its own funding to deliver a £3.1m scheme.
Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Executive Member for Environment and Housing, said:
“I am delighted that the council has secured additional funding to deliver energy-saving green upgrades in another 120 council properties. This scheme will make a real difference to the families in these homes, potentially cutting energy bills by 70%.
“As the biggest landlord in the city, Leeds City Council has a responsibility to make sure that we are leading by example and that’s why our ambitious commitment to invest £100 million in social housing decarbonisation by 2025—which I am pleased to say that we are on track to deliver—is so important.”
This post is based on a press release issued by Leeds City Council
Photo: Whole house retrofit to decarbonise homes in Holt Park
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