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Hastings will want a good take-up of the green grants to improve the energy efficiency of homes.

Hastings well qualified to bid for government green funds

With a high incidence of fuel poverty and many homes with a low level of energy efficiency, Hastings should be aiming to get its fair share of the government grants on offer for decarbonising houses. These form part of a wider package of green funds which also have a job creation purpose. Nick Terdre reports.

The funding forms part of a series of measures presented in the Chancellor’s summer statement which are aimed mainly at preserving jobs at a time when the looming withdrawal of the government’s support packages raises the prospect of unemployment on a large scale.

It comes in two parts, the bulk as a £2 billion Green Homes Grant under which homeowners and landlords can receive up to £5,000 per household to implement energy efficiency measures. It requires some matched spending on the part of the recipients, who will receive “at least £2 for every £1” they spend, according to a Treasury statement.

However, for those on the lowest incomes, the scheme “will fully fund energy efficiency measures of up to £10,000 per household.” The rules for deciding who is eligible, the application process and other details have yet to be announced.

“In total this could support over 100,000 green jobs and help strengthen a supply chain that will be vital for meeting our target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” the Treasury said. The aim is to upgrade over 600,000 homes in England, with savings of “hundreds of pounds per year” on energy bills.

The other £1bn will fund a public sector decarbonisation scheme, offering grants to public sector bodies, including schools and hospitals, and presumably also councils, to implement both energy efficiency measures and low carbon heat upgrades.

In addition a much smaller amount – up to £40 million – will be made available in a Green Jobs Challenge Fund for environmental charities and public authorities to create and protect 5,000 jobs in England. “The jobs will involve improving the natural environment, including planting trees, restoring habitats, clearing waterways, and creating green space for people and wildlife.” Again this appears to be a source of funding which Hastings Borough Council could pursue.

The schemes will be administered by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which will provide details such as eligibility and the application process ahead of inviting applications probably in September.

Awaiting guidance

“The council are awaiting further guidance on the £1bn fund for improving energy efficiency in public sector buildings,” a spokesperson told HOT.

“The council will be working with educational partners to respond to the short and medium term opportunities the green jobs challenge fund will provide regarding developing a skilled workforce, in Hastings, to support achievement of our 2030 carbon target.

“This work will feed into the development of a town investment plan, through the work of the town deal board. It also needs to link with the decarbonising agenda, which is due for submission 31 January 2021.”

Kate Meakin and Anton Hack, energy advisers with Energise Sussex coast (photo: ESC).

The green funds should provide an opportunity for community energy group Energise Sussex Coast to get its hands dirty the way it likes to: improving the energy performance of homes in Hastings and its environs. In a town with a high incidence of fuel poverty and energy inefficiency, ESC is an invaluable source of advice on energy saving measures and switching supplier to achieve lower bills, and has been involved in installing solar arrays on the roofs of schools, churches and some business establishments.

Richard Watson, an ESC director, welcomed the opportunities the Green Homes Grant opens up, though he notes that the £3bn pot corresponds to only one third of the £9.2bn of green investment which the Conservatives promised in their election manifesto.

Hastings’ high rate of energy poverty

Though details are awaited on how those on the lowest incomes will be defined, he is certain that there will be no shortage of eligible households in Hastings. “England has 2.5 million homes in energy poverty (3.5 million in the UK as a whole), or 10.9% of all homes. The rate in Hastings is higher, at 13.3%, which is equivalent to 5,586 homes.

“As a community energy group we see energy poverty – or any type of poverty – as a reality that’s becoming increasingly common, and which many more people will face during this pandemic and recession.

“We’d rather empower households to take control of their energy themselves by giving them the right information than do it for them, but we are certainly going to use the green investment grants and loans to set up a ‘green team’ that can help every household and business in the area.

“By October we hope the ESC Green Team will be up and running and ready to help householders in Hastings improve their energy efficiency. We’re talking about simple steps like draught-proofing, putting in radiator reflectors, loft insulation and better heating controls, which can make a big difference to the warmth of a house and the size of the energy bill.

“And if you upgrade to a smart meter, we can link that to an app on your smartphone so that you have good control over your energy expenditure – you can see in real time exactly how much gas and electricity you are using and how much it costs and get an alert if some piece of equipment is inadvertently left on. Look out for further announcements!”

See also Get geared up for a government green grant!

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Posted 20:43 Sunday, Jul 19, 2020 In: Energy

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