Government awards Sovereign over £9m to retrofit 1,000 homes

Sovereign Housing Association is delighted to announce that we have been awarded over £9m by the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) towards our £22.5m improvement strategy helping 1,000 homes.

This is the largest grant yet made to Sovereign to invest in existing homes and will help Sovereign on its journey to de-carbonising and retrofitting our 61,000-home portfolio and map a pathway to net zero by 2050.

This SHDF Wave 2.1 funding round is part of the 2019 Conservative Manifesto commitment to a £3.8bn Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund over a 10-year period to improve the energy performance of social rented homes. The SHDF strategic objectives are to deliver warm, energy-efficient homes, reduce carbon emissions and fuel bills, tackle fuel poverty, and support green jobs.

Sovereign’s SHDF proposals accord with these objectives but also go one step further to target the strategic outcomes defined within our Homes and Place standard, targeting enhanced affordability, health and wellbeing, carbon reduction and mapping a clear pathway to net zero.

Engaging with our customers on this journey to decarbonisation is crucial to the success of the project. We are now meeting our customers to get this project underway. Our Resident Liaison Officers and retrofit teams will work closely with our customers to explain every step of the journey, what the outcomes will be, how this will benefit them and how newly installed smart-home technology will help reduce their energy bills.

Home improvement retrofit measures have been individually assessed and tailored for each home and follow a fabric-first approach which includes wall insulation, heat pumps, battery storage, photovoltaic (“solar”) panels, and ‘smart’ home controls. Combined, these measures will deliver an enhanced energy efficiency rating of EPC B and B+ and an improved affordability benefit to our customers where bills could fall by as much as half post-retrofit.

The project is supported by a data-driven approach to continuous learning and improvement, and we intend to roll that out across all our homes. Once surveyed, each home will have a “passport” that records all the retrofit measures needed to achieve net zero. The same “passport” links to ongoing monitoring within each home to evaluate their operation, demonstrating net zero delivery and allowing quicker identification of faults or poor environmental conditions within homes.

Sovereign has been closely supported throughout this bid process by Sero who provide digital solutions for planning, funding and operating homes along their decarbonisation journey towards net zero.

Speaking from Sovereign’s headquarters in Basingstoke today, CEO Mark Washer said:

“I am delighted that our very ambitious bid has been successful and that we can now start using SHDF funding to improve our customers’ homes, making them greener and cheaper to run. At a time when people are struggling to pay their bills and when the quality of social housing is under scrutiny, Sovereign is leading the way in upgrading our homes to make them warmer, more efficient and set them on the journey to net zero.

He went on to say:

“I want to congratulate the bid team at Sovereign for all their hard work in demonstrating to the government that we really mean business when it comes to retrofit. Improving every home we own is core to our mission, and this funding will play an important part in expanding our retrofit programme to thousands of customers.

“Sovereign is leading the social housing sector in retrofit, and we want to share everything we learn on the way. It’s in all our interests to reduce the carbon footprint of social housing. It’s great that the SHDF has been able to support us in this vital work, but government must continue to invest in retrofit, whether its supporting housing associations, providing investment for training and skills or funding research and development into the new technologies that will make net zero a reality.”