WHY THE END OF THE GREEN HOMES GRANT DIDN’T MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE TO SMART HOUSING PROVIDERS.
The premature ending of the Green Homes Grant (GHG) shouldn’t have been a huge surprise - it fits with a long history of stop-start of government funding that we have all had to deal with. But for many housing providers it wasn’t even a consideration in their long-term plans to deliver Band C and zero carbon homes. They have bigger, better and critically their own plans that will meet the needs of their businesses, their customers and the environment.
So what does the approach of the clued up housing providers tell us about funding and finance and its role in delivering Band C and low carbon homes?
HOLLYWOOD HOLDS THE KEY TO TACKLING CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE UK. HERE’S WHY.
For many years we have been engaged in a debate about the balance between the economy and addressing the threat of climate change. With one or two notable exceptions, there has been an acceptance that ‘something must be done’ but the debate has raged as to what, when and how much. We could have been accused of have been fiddling while our global Rome has burnt. But this may be about to change, and the key may be a lesson that Hollywood nailed a few years ago.
For a long time, the zero carbon agenda was seen as a cost to the economy and this was one of the strongest arguments against taking action – or at least the one used as the strongest argument against. From the Stern Report in 2006 through to the most recent Climate Change Committee report, we have been trying to find that sweet spot between investment, expenditure and impacts to reduce climate change.
ON INCOMPLETE INFORMATION, PUBLIC SHAMING, AND SHUNNING WRAPPED IN MORAL RHETORIC,” IS IT TIME FOR THE SOCIAL HOUSING SECTOR TO STEP UP AND MAKE ESG AOK?
Six months ago, The Economist[quoted Hester Peirce, the main regulator at the US Securities and Exchange Commission, on the scoring systems used to test company’s performance on Environmental Social and Governance (ESG). ESG is now a key part of how investors rank companies and with the social housing sector well along the road of seeking investor cash, how is it doing?
In one sense it is easy for the sector to score brilliantly in terms of ESG. If we compare ourselves to businesses like energy companies, what we do is inherently good socially and environmentally right?We house low income households, our homes are the most energy efficient of any housing sector, and we do some great stuff in terms of environmental innovations. Job done and time to go home and feel great about ourselves.
But this misses the fundamental point of what ESG is and why investors are now demanding more from clients.
Although it has yet to secure its historical shorthand title, C19, or what has been termed ‘what with one thing and another’ by Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo on their film review show, has all us of battling with a strange new reality. It’s proving hard to see beyond getting through the day once we have heard the latest announcements, sorted shopping for essentials, remembered social distancing and of course entertained and educated our children. Still it’s great to be spending so much quality time with our families…
With many of us getting used to working from home for the first time, how are others in the sector coping and what are they up to?
In a totally unscientific poll we have spoken to colleagues across the country about the things they are working on whilst they can’t go to the office and if there was one pattern emerging, it was people planning for the future – even if in some cases this wasn’t entirely deliberate. They were simply getting on with things that they could do with an internet connection and a laptop. And of course, they only mentioned things that we work on – I know many others are simply dealing with the daily urgent reality of the challenges for colleagues and customers.
So, it might not be the equivalent of writing the Beveridge Report, but right now it might just be the right time to start thinking about planning for the future. Here’s our top 10 ideas:
Getting to Band C by 2030 has fast become a strategic target in the sector. This has recently been given a major boost with funding now available for insulation measures; both large and small. The funding is adding £millions to investment programmes to those who are moving quickly before it runs out. To secure your funding drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.adecoe.co.uk/resources/eco
The funding can deliver loft and cavity insulation as well as Internal Wall Insulation (IWI) and provides free Energy Performance Certificates as part of the package. Programme assessment and all surveys are free.
With limited budgets and increasing demands to complete Fire Risk Assessment works (FRA), investment in energy efficiency has been hard won over the last few years. But sector leaders now recognise that Band C is rapidly becoming the minimum target and that the long term goal is to meet net zero carbon for not only their existing homes but their development pipeline and corporate activities. This is a challenging target but one the sector can meet if it takes the right approach. Many in the sector are now forging ahead by setting some key principles and taking some simple steps, outlined below.
Three years ago made a - which we were involved in - that set the challenge of creating a new vision for tackling the desperately needed retrofit of homes in the UK. In three years we have gone from demanding a vision for housing to having no vision or plan at all. The government is suffering from what The Economist calls Brexit Constipation.
At the same time there is more innovation in the world of housing, energy and retrofit than ever before.
This presents us with a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs and the housing sector to create the vision themselves.
It’s become a modern management mantra that we should embrace chaos. But what about it’s more polite, genteel cousin – randomness? The future that we will all inhabit is more often the result of random connections than it is the linear chronology. and certainly the much-trumped chaos.
I was reminded of this as I sat down the other night and reacquainted myself with the seminal 1978 television series ‘Connections’ written and presented by James Burke, which set out to give an ‘alternative view of change’.
But what you ask, has this got to with housing? To paraphrase James Burke - bear with me, we will come to this shortly. In the meantime, we need to do a little more scene setting.
Back in the day - when I had a real job in social housing - the glamorous part of the sector was new homes. It was seen as commercial, innovative and the guys (and it usually was guys then) were a bit more hip and happening. They had a thing going on. They drove BMWs! They had expense accounts! They met contractors that other people had heard of! OK, so now the BMW is as hip as a Ford and expense accounts aren't remotely Madmen, but with the new push in to development it is still seen as the more glamorous bit of the sector.
But we are seeing a radical shift in housing that has been long overdue. A shift that is seeing asset management and stock maintenance now as the area where new and exciting stuff is happening. This begs the question, is maintenance the new innovator?