The August summer break is over, schools are back and so is the latest round of the City Council’s Scrutiny Committees. This month’s Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee had a private rented sector theme and we stayed to listen into Item 5 – Private Rented Sector Strategy 2020-2025.
With regards to any detail on a response to climate change, the main document has pretty much nothing beyond “The strategy supports the delivery of increasing low carbon homes within the sector to meet the Council’s ambitious 2038 zero carbon target.” The devil is in the detail and as much as I know it’s not been easy to work during lockdown, there’s not much to really comment on (appendix 2 has the points below). This reflects the one question by Gavin White (Old Moat) on asking for more detail on retrofitting.
We also learned from the Head of Housing that there’s a couple of bids in this area – one just submitted for a green homes grant to central government and one from GMCA to retrofit the least efficient privately owned or rented homes (EPC categories E / F / G) that needs to be spent by March 2021. They estimate that this will help between 40 and 80 homes in total. Oddly, they sounded worried that they will struggle to do so in time and only bid for the minimum amount of £500k. I’m sure out of the 88,000 privately rented homes not to mention the hundreds of thousands of privately owned homes they could find a way to spend the money on homes with vulnerable residents in the next 6 months…
As you can see, there’s pretty much no vision or ambtition in this plan (beyond a pilot study, data reviews and outreach/enforcement to landlords) on how to get the c.88,000 privately rented homes to zero carbon by 2038 let alone anything sooner.
This is a big part of why we have burned through 25% of our carbon emissions in the past 2 years and why we need a 7th scrutiny committee dedicated to climate and the environment – to look at the detail and demand more of a plan on this issue when there’s barely anything provided…
So what’s next?
The strategy will be recommended to go to the executive for approval and they have noted an update on the strategy in the next 6 months and then every 12 months after that. Let’s hope that by March, they’ve been able to analyse the data andcan give us a better idea of the scale of the challenge at hand in getting the private rented sector to zero carbon by 2038. Maybe they could also have what they need from landlords, central government and investors in order to tackle this issue in a much more radical fashion. Incremental change is nowhere near enough.