As a local authority, you have a key role in the delivery of warm, sustainable homes and communities.
The UK has committed to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, and housing will play a key part in making that viable.
Gas boilers are set to be banned in new homes from 2025 – and there’s a need to retrofit the country’s existing housing stock with sustainable heating solutions at the same time.
That’s why creative ways are needed to deliver green homes, critically, that don’t add to the acute financial pressures local authorities are already under.
And while there is substantial government funding available to local authorities to make housing improvements, the landscape is fast-moving, with various schemes, funds and grants launching and closing all the time.
So, it’s incumbent on councils not to miss out on these opportunities to secure the financial support that can create cleaner, greener, happier communities.
The process of applying for funding can be difficult, and there is often competition for cash.
So, where to start to give your funding application the best chance of success?
There are currently at least seven Government funding pots that local authorities can apply for, totalling many billions of pounds. But many funds are short-lived, sometimes lasting just weeks, so it’s vital to keep on top of the latest changes to ensure you don’t miss out on any opportunities. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy website is a good source of information.
We recognise that all local authorities face their own funding pressures, but devoting a dedicated resource to housing funding will pay dividends. Giving an officer or a small team ownership of the issue means they can build up their expertise and create funding bids with a higher chance of succeeding. It’s worth noting that all Government funds include an element to pay for management and administration. Under the Sustainable Warmth Competition, for example, up to 15% can be used for this purpose. So, if you bid for £250,000 of funding, £37,500 can be used to pay for your in-house resource.
While the requirements for different funding pots do vary, there are some common elements between schemes, that mean you can prepare certain parts of your application in advance. Completing a thorough review of your housing stock, and keeping it up to date, means you are armed with the information you need to move fast when new funding opportunities are announced. That can include homes’ Energy Performance Certificate bands, whether they have been insulated, and the demographics of the residents and levels of deprivation. This can help you quickly and efficiently assess which households are eligible for a scheme and what the most feasible solutions are.
You don’t have to go it alone. Joining forces with local housing associations or neighbouring authorities to apply for funds can deliver a host of benefits, so its worth engaging with potential partners early. Larger projects can benefit from economies of scale, generating better value for taxpayers, and meaning that any risk is shared. Collaborating in this way also means you get to pool your expertise and experience, increasing the chance of successful outcomes.
There’s no doubt that the funding application process can be complex and time-consuming, which can deter organisations from applying. But local authorities can access free support to develop their proposals. That can include help with determining which funding pots are best to achieve their goals, support in identifying eligible properties, writing funding bids, recruiting installers, engaging and consulting with residents and much more.
Nick Huston is future energy business manager at Daikin UK