Combined Authority confronts challenges to help the region deliver on Net Zero and Low Carbon commitments.
Members of the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority Board have today (31st August 2022), approved the return of underspend to BEIS of £33.35m from Phase 2 of the Local Authority Delivery Scheme (LAD2) and £62.6m from the Sustainable Warmth Programme.
The LAD2 amount is spread across the entire 136 Local Authorities in the scheme, so the local implication is that the £2.8m awarded to Cambridgeshire through the scheme will reduce by just under £2m, allowing funds to continue to deliver over the next few months.
In respect of the Sustainable Warmth programme, the return of £62.6m from the fund of £118.4m is split across the collection of smaller funding allocations in 64 Local Authorities. There is no impact on Cambridgeshire and the Local Authorities that constitute the Combined Authority region as they are participating in Sustainable Warmth funded schemes through another delivery consortium and are not funded from these monies.
Delivery of the schemes through the Greater South East Net Zero hub is hugely ambitious as it covers 45% of England’s housing stock across 136 Local Authorities. The installation of energy saving devices, such as fuel-efficient heat pumps, requires a skilled taskforce, and there has not been enough capacity in the supply chain to meet the demand in the timescales available. The Combined Authority, together with partners, have been directly working to boost the local supply chain. This involves building both the project team, and installer, capability and capacity.
A further phase of Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) funding is being discussed to run from March 2023. HMG are also seeking to extend the value of funds in the Energy Company Obligation Scheme (ECO4 from 2022-2026) from £650m a year to £1billion a year. This would provide more certainty for business in the supply chain that there is likely to be sustained funding over a long-term period.
Although delivery has been difficult and it’s disappointing to return any funding, it is evident that all the work to boost the supply chain and build confidence with partners is having a real impact. The scheme is delivering successfully, helping vulnerable communities, and most importantly a growth trajectory can be seen.
To the end of July, the LAD2 project has delivered a benefit of 1,376 measures delivered to 858 households. The target for LAD2 is to deliver 3,400 measures to 2,000 homes by the end of September 2022. The target for the Sustainable Warmth Scheme is to deliver 6,800 measures to 4,000 homes across 64 local authority areas by the end of March 2023.
Combined Authority Mayor, Dr Nik Johnson, said: “The scheme had an overwhelming response with over 13,000 households referred across the region.
The key challenge for delivering the scheme has been and continues to be the availability of skilled workers in the region to carry out the Retrofit installations. A significant amount of work has been done by GSENZH, the local authorities and the delivery partner, Warmworks, to boost the supply chain, obtain quality assessors and installers and build trust in the scheme with contractors.
Our Skills Team have set up Skills Bootcamps beginning this summer to deliver Retrofit training and are working with education partners to deliver Adult Education courses this Autumn.
The Combined Authority have also looked to the future by working to develop education and training for Green Skills. This will help businesses find staff with the right skills to expand this work in the future and help the region deliver on Net Zero and Low Carbon commitments.”
The LAD2 scheme has been extended until 30th September 2022 to allow homes to be upgraded within the scheme and supply chain capacity. The Sustainable Warmth Scheme will run until March 2023. The Combined Authority will continue working hard to ensure as many properties as possible will be delivered in the time remaining. Some householders who have applied for the LAD2 scheme may be eligible for Sustainable Warmth. These households will be notified and can continue the process in that scheme. Individuals who require further support should contact their Local Authority.
Work will continue building the supply chain and working with local partners to support the provision of Green Skills and deliver the regions Net Zero targets.