To receive a presentation for discussion on the Government’s Green Homes Scheme as it impacts on Enfield.
The Forum received a presentation from Dominic Millen (Traffic and Transportation) on the Government’s new Housing Retrofit Programme. Copies of the slides are attached to the agenda and on request from the Committee Secretary.
1. Presentation on the Government Housing Retrofit Programme
Dominic Millen highlighted the following from his presentation:
· The Council had recently agreed a Climate Action Plan working with a range of partners. It was planned that the Council be a carbon neutral organisation by 2030 and for Enfield to be a carbon neutral borough by 2040.
· Retrofit was an important part of the plan as it would make properties more energy efficient and so reduce carbon emmissions.
· Retrofit enabled changes to a building including the main fabric, heating sources and energy generation, each had different levels of impact and costs.
· The Green Homes Grant was £2 billion worth of funding, in the form of vouchers, from Government to enable individuals to carry out retrofitting measures. This could include loft installations, low carbon heat pumps, double glazing and draft proofing. All improvements must be completed by 31 March 2021.
· The barriers to the scheme included understanding eligibility, being aware that measures were not suitable to all properties, the availability of contractors, the need to make people aware of the scheme, the short timescales and the need to provide top up costs.
· Representatives from civic groups would have a role to play in encouraging uptake.
· For people on low incomes the Enfield Fuel Poverty Scheme was an existing scheme for vulnerable Enfield residents which provided energy advice and minor home improvements and could help people access Government funds. They would undertake home visits and carry out outreach events.
· Addressing fuel poverty could have a real impact on health.
2. Questions/Comments from Members
2.1 People on very low incomes would not have to contribute to take part in the scheme. This message needed to be targeted at those people. The Council already had information on households in fuel poverty and those on low incomes so would be focusing any local communications about the scheme on them.
2.2 There was a national publicity campaign being delivered by the Government. This should cover voluntary groups including citizens advice bureaux in contact with vulnerable, hard to reach groups.
2.3 There was continuing work to reduce energy use in Council buildings including the civic centre, particularly while they are being used less. As part of this the Council was looking to run systems differently and more efficiently.
4 Central control of school boilers ceased 4 years ago. All schools now had control over their own heating systems.
5 Some concern was expressed about the possibility that the scheme, if inappropriate interventions were carried out, would result in damage to heritage properties. Individuals would be able to apply to the scheme but if the works require planning permission this would still be required. Green assessors would need to be made aware of this aspect.
6 It was felt that some extra protections needed to be put in place for conservation areas and heritage properties. This was an issue that the Conservation Advisory Group could have been involved in.
7 It could be useful if people could write to the Government to make them aware of the problem from a heritage point of view. It was important to flag up the issue of potential problems in advance
The summing up by the Chair that communication was important and would be worked on to ensure that everyone including the most vulnerable were made aware of the scheme. It was essential to address fuel poverty and put in place actions to mitigate climate change.