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Report explores social housing’s outlook on retrofit investment

A new ‘state of the nation’ report examining the social housing sector’s attitude to retrofit has found concerns over fuel poverty continue to drive investment decision, but there is a perception that Government policy lacks clarity.

The report was put together by Capita Real Estate and Infrastructure in partnership with the National Energy Foundation, the University of Salford and communications agency Customer Plus.

‘State of the Nation: Low Energy Retrofit in Social Housing’, as the report is called, focuses on the attitudes of the UK’s housing sector towards energy-saving retrofits, and their role in overcoming the major challenges of fuel poverty, lowering carbon emissions and social rent reduction.

The report highlighted three main findings:

  • Registered social housing providers are willing and able to deliver retrofitting programmes
  • Good data is vital in making the business case for retrofit
  • Technology adoption and performance monitoring and evaluation

Key findings of the survey include:

  • 84% of respondents cited reducing fuel poverty as the main driver for retrofitting
  • 44% of Registered Providers had low to medium confidence in data relating to the energy efficiency of their housing stock
  • The technologies with the lowest confidence levels were biomass boilers with 2.6 out of 5

Prevalent in the report is a need for the industry to bring data together from different areas and change the culture of compertmentalised thinking. This will help provide solutions to rising fuel poverty, while embracing new technologies that help lower energy costs in social housing.

“Retrofitting is essential if we are to tackle fuel poverty across the UK’s grossly inefficient housing stock, which is contributing to high energy costs for many people,” said Jamie Abbott, programme director, Capita Real Estate and Infrastructure.

“Our report highlights the willingness of Social Housing Providers to ensure that retrofitting is a top priority. The industry now needs to better harness the willingness of Social Housing Providers to push forward with reducing fuel poverty through the smart application of data analysis, new technology adoption and ongoing investment.”

Luke Smith, principal energy specialist at the National Energy Foundation, added: “It’s encouraging that the social housing sector is very much willing and able to deliver when it comes to retrofit.

“What is clearly challenging, however, is how to make the business case for retrofit activity amidst funding difficulties, competing priorities and unclear policies. This is where I believe it can pay to take a joined up approach and to use existing housing and asset management data to acknowledge the strategic role that energy efficiency can play in overcoming issues such as long void periods, complaints, affordability and fuel poverty.”

The full report is available here.

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