Improving the standard of London’s social housing

CSE will be working with the GLA to raise the capital’s Decent Homes energy standard

30 June 2010

The poorest households often live in social housing, rented from local councils or housing associations. So they need their homes to be as energy efficient as possible to ensure they can keep healthily warm in winter and their heating and electricity bills to a minimum. While the Decent Homes legislation sets a minimum energy standard for social housing, there are increasing concerns that it is too lenient and fails to protect against fuel poverty.

Now CSE will be working with the Greater London Authority (GLA) to research different options for improving the quality and environmental performance of social housing in the capital.

This will involve adapting the CSE’s existing energy efficiency and fuel poverty model, which is already quite sophisticated but needs further spatial data on the types of social housing in London to provide a better understanding of the range of costs needed to meet an enhanced Decent Homes standard.

“The ultimate end result of this valuable piece of work” said CSE’s Martin Holley “should be an improvement in the quality of life for people living in London’s social rented sector.”

The Decent Homes legislation aims to provide a minimum standard of housing conditions for people living in the public sector by the end of 2010. Around 92% of London’s current social housing stock already meets this standard. However this legislation sets a low basic minimum standard for heating and insulation – well below what is needed to reduce fuel poverty. It also fails to address sufficiently the environmental performance of homes, particularly in relation to mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Having recently developed the London Heat Map for the GLA, CSE will be able to use its knowledge of London’s social housing and fuel poverty, as well as a full appreciation of the district heat network opportunities available to social housing providers across the capital.

Additional analysis will include modelling the types of medium and high rise residential blocks to assess their summer cooling needs, an increasing issue for London as temperatures rise. The Metropolitan Housing Trust will also bring specialist input and real-life practical experience of social housing perspectives to the project to help identify issues around asset management, and to shape the development of options for an enhanced Decent Homes standard.

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