The Mayor of London has set out plans to funnel £51m funding towards slashing carbon emissions from thousands of homes in the UK capital, as part of a package of measures aimed at boosting energy efficiency and tackling poverty.
On Friday, Sadiq Khan revealed he had clinched a record £40.2m government funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) Sustainable Warmth Fund to help upgrade 3,200 fuel poor homes in London from next year.
The funding is set to be delivered from next Spring through the Warmer Homes scheme, which offers grants of up to £20,000 for heating, insulation and ventilation improvements to low-income Londoners who either own their homes or rent privately.
The scheme will also benefit from a further £8.5m from BEIS’ Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery scheme, in addition to £2.6m funding from City Hall itself, according to the Mayor’s office.
Khan said the investment would help both reduce the climate impact of London’s housing stock while also boosting the capital’s green jobs market. “I’m pleased that our £51m commitment will directly help those living in ageing, energy-inefficient homes,” he said. “This investment will help tackle the climate emergency and support Londoners with the skills they need for jobs in the green economy.”
Alongside funding retrofit measures, a Warmer Homes advice service geared at providing energy advice services for vulnerable and low income Londoners is also being launched, offering assistance on on heating homes, energy or water bills debt, and onward referrals to income maximisation services.
Roughly 15 per cent of London’s population live in fuel poverty, meaning that a household’s income is not enough to cover the cost of heating and powering a home, according to City Hall.
That figure is expected to soar this winter due to record high energy prices and the ongoing financial impact of the pandemic. City Hall has estimated that the rising cost of heating and electricity could lead to as many as 75,000 more households in London becoming fuel poor.
Khan said it was “unacceptable” that many Londoners can’t afford to keep their homes warm and “instead suffer cold, damp conditions” during winter months.
“We know the economic impacts of the pandemic and rising fuel prices are likely to plunge even more London households into fuel poverty,” he said. “That’s why from today, I’m reopening my Warmer Homes programme to support vulnerable Londoners this winter.”
It comes amid growing concerns about the impact of surging energy costs and cold temperatures on households across the UK which are already struggling to make ends meet, and which are living in poorly insulated and heated homes.
Last week trade body the Association of Decentralised Energy (ADE) called on the UK government take action to leverage private investment in energy efficiency retrofits, grid flexibility and low carbon heat in order to slash the number of deaths attributed to fuel poverty each year.
Capital investment urgenly needs unlocking in the “key areas” of green retrofits, heat networks and flexibility technologies, it said. The trade body has also called on government to slash VAT on energy efficiency retrofits, arguing he move would incentivise home owners across the country to take action to reduce the carbon footprint of their homes.
“It is unacceptable that in Britain today millions of families live in homes that are cold, damp and unhealthy,” said Dr Joanne Wade, chief strategic advisor to the ADE. “The decarbonisation of the energy system must include a transformation of our housing so that everyone can live in a comfortable, healthy home.”
In related London news, meanwhile, a free course for small and medium sized businesses in the City of London looking to achieve net zero is set to launch in January.
The course is being run by responsible business charity Heart of the City and is designed to help participants devise an action plan for their business, make a commitment to become net zero by 2040, and to disclose their progress every year.