Social Housing (Regulation) Bill [HL] - Committee

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 6th September 2022.

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Photo of Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Green 3:45 pm, 6th September 2022

My Lords, I want to speak about energy efficiency as well, because clearly this is something that no one can disagree with. It is smart and, at the very least, good business practice—not to mention that it helps people on very low incomes.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, pointed out, social housing landlords have a huge challenge to raise the energy efficiency of the homes they look after and to bring them up to modern standards, simply because they do not have the money. If the Government are not going to give them a handout or ease the energy crisis in all sorts of ways, they need to make it possible and to make funding less incredibly difficult. The situation is getting worse day by day, as supply chain issues and the rate of inflation keep shooting up.

At the moment, the main source of funding for social housing improvements seems to be borrowing against future income from social rents. This means a very tight pot of funding, where energy-efficiency measures have to compete against issues such as maintenance, renovation and new home building. The Government could create new fundraising opportunities for local authorities. Some of this could be grant funding but there are other options too, such as facilitating the creation of climate bonds and other sorts of financing.

I hope that tackling this funding gap for social housing is a priority of this Government. It would help so many people. I look forward to the Minister sharing the Government’s plans and, I hope, bringing forward something on this issue on Report.