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The £100m+ race to retrofit Hertfordshire’s housing stock unlocks unprecedented opportunity for local tradespeople and SMEs

27 Jun 23
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Hertfordshire’s social housing stock is set to undergo a remarkable transformation, with over £100m secured locally to make homes greener and more energy efficient over the next two years.

This investment will unlock new opportunities for local tradespeople and the SME supply chain network, marking a pivotal moment in the county’s journey towards Net Zero 2050.

Hertfordshire LEP teamed up with Greener Herts - a partnership between sustainability focused housing associations Watford Community Housing, B3Living and settle - to host its first Retrofit Opportunities workshop, bringing together industry leaders, skills providers and policy influencers.

With access of talent being one of the major challenges associated with retrofit delivery, the workshop linked industry with education to identify existing skills gaps, set out the long term economic opportunity and lay the foundations for Hertfordshire’s burgeoning retrofit industry.

Steve Woodcock, Hertfordshire LEP Board member and CEO of B3Living, said: “Government has ramped up its drive to provide greener homes, pledging a significant pipeline of investment, which makes this an opportune moment to kick-start vital work to develop Hertfordshire’s retrofit capabilities.

“Training providers have a key role to play in upskilling our existing workforce and training new talent to fulfil emerging jobs roles and embrace new technologies. Working together we can ensure that as many families as possible are lifted out of fuel poverty in Hertfordshire, while providing exciting new prospects for our residents and businesses.”

 

Five key workshop takeaways:

Richard Roberts, Leader of Hertfordshire County Council and Hertfordshire LEP Board member, on the county’s ongoing commitment to sustainability: “The sustainability agenda runs through everything we do at Hertfordshire County Council. We are seeing the Eastern region getting drying and hotter at a faster rate than anywhere else in the country, and although the political landscape in Hertfordshire is changing, incoming leaders will continue to deal with all the same issues we are facing now. The substantial funding that has been leveraged locally has the potential to make a big difference, but to succeed it is vital that all stakeholders work together.”

Gavin Cansfield, Chief Executive of settle, on Government’s long-term commitment: “The Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Wave 2.1 is a two year programme with an £800m allocation, but this is just one small part of a wider £1.3bn commitment by Government over the next 10 years. Stakeholders can rest assured that the retrofit agenda is only set to grow, and it brings with it the chance to provide an enormous amount of social value to local communities.”

Maxine Narburgh, Regional Head of the Greater South East Net Zero Hub (GSENZH), on the scale of the opportunity: “The UK has some of the oldest and most inefficient housing stock in Europe, and across the country there are 25 million homes to decarbonise by 2050. To meet this goal we would need to retrofit 8 homes per minute, with 523,000 jobs expected to be created in the Greater South East region alone. The opportunity is huge and if done right, could bring about a significant uplift to local businesses and those residents most struggling with fuel poverty.”

John Swinney, Sustainability Lead at Greener Herts, on the need for collaboration: “This is the first time work is taking place on this scale in Hertfordshire, and this presents a chance to introduce brand new models of working. Every single area in Hertfordshire has secured funding, making this is a genuine, county-wide opportunity. This is also not a one-off initiative – future waves of Government funding will be needed to take us from where we are now to Net Zero. Collaborating will mean reducing waste, avoiding duplication and getting things done cheaper and quicker. There is also a massive opportunity to showcase exemplar projects that can tell the story of what we are achieving here in Hertfordshire.”

Norman Jennings, Operations Director at Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), on the county’s labour market landscape: “Hertfordshire has a low unemployment rate and low NEET rate (young people not in education, employment or training), however we have seen around 18,000 people leave the jobs market over the past year, partly due to COVID-19. This makes it all the more important that we build a strong future talent pipeline and raise awareness among young people, our current workforce and training providers of the growing career prospects relating to retrofit.”

 

About the funding

The £100m+ investment secured in Hertfordshire comprises Government and match funding from the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Wave 2.1, which aims to improve the energy performance of social homes in England.

Other funding opportunities and retrofit activities enhancing Hertfordshire homes include:

  • Home Upgrade Grant 2 - a two year grant providing energy efficiency upgrades and low carbon heating to low income off grid households.
  • Solar Together - group discounted procurement scheme for households to buy solar panels, batteries and/or connected EV charging infrastructure.
  • Eco 4 - Energy Company Obligation - a four year Government scheme from 2022, supporting lowest income residents with free boiler upgrades and central heating.
  • Green Heat Network - capital grant support for the development of new and existing low and zero-carbon heat networks.

Hertfordshire LEP is planning future workshops for autumn 2023 to further develop the sector and support the SME supply chain to access the retrofit opportunity. To register your interest, email info@hertfordshirelep.co.uk.

Working together we can ensure that as many families as possible are lifted out of fuel poverty in Hertfordshire, while providing exciting new prospects for our residents and businesses.
Steve Woodcock Steve WoodcockHertfordshire LEP Board member and CEO of B3Living
Working together we can ensure that as many families as possible are lifted out of fuel poverty in Hertfordshire, while providing exciting new prospects for our residents and businesses.
Steve Woodcock Steve WoodcockHertfordshire LEP Board member and CEO of B3Living