Social housing leaders across the North East have welcomed a huge boost to their decarbonisation plans.

Secretary of State for Energy Security Claire Coutinho announced the award of over £75 million from the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund to offer free upgrades to tenants’ homes including insulation, double glazing and the installation of heat pumps. The scheme is already working to reach around 100,000 households.

Funding will be available to 42 councils and housing associations across England to install energy saving measures in social homes, while supporting 1,300 jobs in the UK’s retrofit industry.

Claire Coutinho said: "This funding will help up to a further 8,800 households save around £400 a year on their energy bills. The Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund has already allocated over £1 billion since 2019, with projects including Durham County Council, which previously received over £5million to upgrade around 1,300 homes."

Head of Planning and Housing at Durham Country Council Michael Kelleher said: "We have ambitious targets to reduce County Durham’s carbon footprint and we continue to work with partners to achieve this aim.

"The energy efficiency retrofit works carried out through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund have made a significant difference to households. Not only has it benefitted the environment by reducing the carbon emissions of the houses involved, but the more efficient energy use has also helped reduce heating and electricity costs for tenants."

The Northern Echo: Paul FiddamanPaul Fiddaman (Image: NEHP)

Chief Executive of Karbon Homes Paul Fiddaman said: "With a diverse range of homes, across rural and urban communities and everything in between, this vital funding is enabling us, and other registered providers across the North East, to make real progress in retrofitting and decarbonising our homes.

"Not only has this programme helped us lower the carbon footprint of these homes, but it’s also helped us provided our customers with warmer, more comfortable homes. As the cost of living crisis continues to have an impact, and we look for more ways to help customers financially, this work has never been more important."

Ruth Dent, Director of Assets and Compliance at believe housing, said: “Support from the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund has enabled us to go further and faster to improve the energy efficiency of customers’ homes than we could have done alone.

The Northern Echo: Ruth DentRuth Dent (Image: believe housing)

“With funding from Waves 1 and 2.1, more than 3,000 of our customers’ homes are receiving a range of measures depending upon the property’s needs, from loft and cavity wall insulation to energy efficient lighting and solar panels.

“Ongoing government support for SHDF will enable housing providers to continue to make homes warmer and healthier for customers, help people manage their energy bills, reduce housing’s carbon footprint, and support the green economy and jobs.”

The government is allocating around £20 billion over this Parliament and next to improve the energy efficiency and low carbon heating of homes and businesses, reducing reliance on fossil fuel heating and reducing household energy bills.

This includes the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which is helping households make the switch from fossil fuel heating systems to cleaner low carbon alternatives.

Having increased the grant by 50 per cent to £7,500 – making it one of the most generous schemes of its kind in Europe – applications are on a sustained surge, with the average monthly number of applications from November 2023 to January this year 39 per cent higher than the monthly average before the uplift.

The government also recently announced that homeowners will have more choice in how they improve their home and will no longer have to install cavity wall or loft insulation to use the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.