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Cross-industry collaboration is key to greener social housing

Credit: Adobe

Home Group | Greener Futures Partnership

3 min read Partner content

Greener Futures Partnership is making inroads into net-zero in social housing but needs outside support if it is to help the UK meet its goals.

Greener Futures Partnership is a collaboration of like-minded housing associations who believe that a joint effort in the social housing sector will achieve much more in helping the sector play its part in the UK’s journey towards reaching net-zero.

We are made up of five of the country’s largest housing associations – Abri, Anchor, Home Group, Hyde Group and Sanctuary – with a joint turnover of £2.3bn. With over 600,000 customers in 300,000 homes, we represent around 10% of all social housing.

By working together, pooling our resources, experience and expertise, we are increasing our impact.

We are also pioneering practical approaches to help accelerate energy efficiency improvements in our homes and combat fuel poverty, and we are at the forefront of social housing’s drive to meet the challenge of climate change.

But our aspiration is bigger than that, and that’s one of the things that makes us different. We aren’t looking for quick fixes: our aim is to provide sustainable homes for our customers for the long term, real, lasting change and, ultimately, wider social value. The voice of our customers is vital to promoting long-term sustainability.

To achieve that we need some issues resolved and support from a range of stakeholders. We have been working closely with experts, including the Centre for Social Justice, to outline what needs to change in order to achieve a widespread upscale in successful decarbonisation. They include:

Decarbonisation and funding

Continued funding for decarbonisation is essential to achieving the challenging 2050 net-zero targets. We need:

  • commitment to the next wave of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund and early clarity over the application window and process.
  • a longer delivery window or multi-year funding settlements for the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, which would allow social housing decarbonisation to be delivered on a greater scale, benefitting more of our customers and doing so at a low unit cost.
  • joined-up thinking across government on social housing and net-zero policy, including on rent setting and funding models.

We aren't looking for quick fixes: our aim is to provide sustainable homes for our customers for the long term

Skills and employment

To address the green skills shortage holding the UK back from seizing the obvious net-zero opportunities, including decarbonising our social housing stock, we need:

  • a comprehensive green skills offer, embedded within an all age all-stage skills offer, alongside effective employment support for those who need it.
  • the Department for Education to deliver a curriculum and syllabus that supports green skills delivery.
  • an accredited skills programme to deliver the upskilling needed at scale to transition to alternative heat sources.

Market making, development and supply chain

The biggest issues holding the UK back from achieving its net-zero aims are the lack of investment and R&D in green tech, a lack of big players, and high taxes on green materials. We need:

  • greater investment in the design, quality, effectiveness and reliability of green tech to achieve at scale.
  • energy providers and manufacturers to match the ambition of housing associations in achieving a transition to alternative heat sources.
  • a significant reduction on the 20% VAT on green materials and an acknowledgement within the VAT rules that retrofit works are best delivered in conjunction with other works to maximise value and minimise disruption, enabling multi-measure projects to access VAT reductions.

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