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HBC secures green homes grant on behalf of East Sussex

On behalf of East Sussex councils Hastings Borough Council has secured nearly £1m from the government’s Green Homes Grant fund to help households living in fuel poverty with home energy efficiency improvements. Nick Terdre reports.

Under HBC’s leadership, East Sussex councils have been awarded £912,714 from the government’s £2bn Green Homes Grant scheme towards a £1.3 million project to improve the energy efficiency of 125 homes across the county.

At Monday’s meeting of the Cabinet, it was agreed that the council should lead the delivery of the project, entering into a partnership agreement with East Sussex County Council and Optivo and signing a memorandum of understanding with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to secure release of the funding.

The balance of the project cost will be provided by the partners.

In a first phase the scheme will focus on improving Optivo properties in Hastings and Rother, after which a second phase will concentrate on improving private properties throughout the county through the East Sussex Warm Homes Check service.

Over 400 energy efficiency measures will be installed in the 125 homes, ranging from insulation of walls, floors and roofs to the installation of double or triple glazing and low-carbon heating like heat pumps or solar thermal – measures that could help households save up to £600 a year on their energy bills, HBC says.

The project is also expected to yield carbon savings of 393 tonnes a year, according to the report to Cabinet, which also states that of the homes to benefit, 51% are owner-occupied, 9% private rented and 40% Optivo dwellings with social rents.

Under the £2bn Green Homes Grant scheme, up to two-thirds of the cost of home improvements will be paid, up to a ceiling of £5,000. For homeowners on low incomes 100% of costs will be covered, and up to 50% for landlords.

Also involved in the initiative are Citizens Advice and RetrofitWorks, which provides the East Sussex Warm Homes Check Service.

Not enough

“It is great that we got all the money we bid for, but although nearly £1m sounds a lot, it isn’t enough to solve this problem,” said Cllr Andy Batsford, lead councillor for housing and homelessness.

“Hastings has high levels of fuel poverty, the highest in the south east, which is a real issue and great concern heading into the winter month.

“…Through this scheme homes in the town will benefit from improved energy efficiency which in turn will save these households money every year on their energy bills.”

Poorly insulated properties are one of the greatest contributors to carbon emissions in the town, so improving their energy efficiency is important if the council’s target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 is to be reached, he said.

“This funding will go some way to addressing fuel poverty and carbon emissions in the town – it is a start but more needs to be done.”

Accommodating rough sleepers

Also on the agenda at the Cabinet meeting was the Next Steps Accommodation programme, under which the government is providing funding of £266m to keep rough sleepers off the streets in the long term.

Here again HBC is leading the bidding for East Sussex local authorities. The funding is divided into two parts: £105m for short-term measures, such as continuation of emergency accommodation arrangements already in place, and leasing accommodation from the private sector, and £161m for longer-term measures, including the first phase of a scheme to provide 3,300 permanent accommodation units for former rough sleepers.

East Sussex has been awarded £934,600 revenue funding for short-term work.

“Homelessness continues to be a challenge in Hastings and around the country,” said Cllr Batsford. ” There are currently 39 former rough sleepers in temporary accommodation in the town with around 15 people still rough sleeping.

“Our successful bid for revenue funding will allow the council to continue to provide temporary accommodation and increase the support we offer to help people to find a longer-term home. We cannot open night shelters over winter due to Covid-19, so this money will also help us provide temporary accommodation for rough sleepers over these hard months.

“Longer term, we have bid to create 30 new ‘Housing First’ units across East Sussex, 10 of which will be in Hastings. Housing First is an internationally recognised method of providing accommodation with a high level of ongoing support.”

 

More about the Green Homes Grant scheme here, and the East Sussex Warm Home Check Service here and Next Steps Accommodation programme here.

 

Posted 09:03 Friday, Oct 9, 2020 In: Energy

1 Comment

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  1. Passing By

    Most welcome initiatives

    Comment by Passing By — Saturday, Oct 10, 2020 @ 14:19

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