Manchester City Council sets out its commitment to tackling the housing retrofit challenge

Sep 13, 2022 | Retrofitting

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Manchester City Council has published a report which sets out the council’s commitment to retrofitting the city’s housing to meet low carbon standards.

The Council’s Retrofit Plan will outline the pathway to zero-carbon housing, which will be key to realising Greater Manchester’s ambition to become a zero-carbon city region by 2038, twelve years ahead of the national target.

The report sets out a roadmap, challenges to overcome and achievements to date but also makes clear the urgency needed to work in collaboration with all housing providers to improve the energy efficiency of Manchester homes and move away from fossil fuel-based heating.

The Manchester Climate Change Framework 2022 estimates that housing makes up 30% of the city’s total carbon emissions.

 Retrofitting the city’s housing stock will also provide essential in lowering resident energy bills during the cost-of-living crisis, improving the health of residents, and improving standards in the city’s existing housing stock.

The new Housing Strategy sets a target of retrofitting at least one-third of all social housing (which is around 70,000 homes) by 2032. This includes retrofitting 60% of the 15,700 Council-owned homes across the city in the same period.

Cllr Tracey Rawlins, Manchester City Council’s executive member for environment, said: “We know that housing accounts for a significant proportion of the city’s CO2 emissions – around 30% – and therefore our retrofit plan will prove essential in our journey to become a zero carbon city by 2038.

“We need to act now – alongside our partners in the public and private sector – to meet this target, but these investments are also needed to support our residents through the ongoing, unprecedented cost-of-living and energy crisis.”

To meet the city’s zero carbon ambitions, 84,000 properties must be retrofitted at least in some way. The average cost of a full property retrofit programme could be between £25,000 and £30,000.

The total cost of achieving a 50% CO2 reduction by 2025 could be £2.1bn and currently, funding for retrofitting works is limited.

The cost challenge will be further exacerbated by the current growing cost of materials and building supplies along with labour shortages.

Manchester City Council has already invested heavily in sustainability improvements for much of the direct-owned social stock and public buildings. Now, the strategy around improving the energy efficiency of all homes is underway to meet the 2038 zero carbon city ambition, alongside investment in fire safety and decent homes work.

The Council will look to increase the scale and pace of retrofit activity and identify further funding resources to deliver the works.

Manchester City Council is currently preparing a submission for the second round of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund to invest in further retrofit works over the next two years, kickstarting the large-scale action on Council-owned properties alongside other social housing landlords across Greater Manchester in collaboration with GMCA.

70% of the city’s social housing stock, which is around 51,600 homes, is owned and managed by housing associations. These organisations are developing costed investment plans for zero carbon housing and the Council is working with these companies as part of the Manchester Housing Providers Partnership to share learning around retrofit investment.

these organisations each face the same challenges as the Council in terms of retrofit cost and the lack of external funding.

A full draft retrofit plan will be developed for the end of the 2022/23 financial year. Read more.

Cllr Gavin White, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and development, said: “The scale of the retrofit challenge is undoubtedly huge, but it’s one we need to tackle head-on, and we need to do it now. It’s encouraging to see the impact of the £83m investment the city has already made in energy efficiency and sustainable technologies, and we know residents have welcomed the cost-saving measures in their homes. But we now need to scale up this work in the coming years.

“There is also a secondary opportunity to support the city’s economy as these works represent long-term employment opportunities and it’s important that we can help our residents gain the necessary retrofit skills and ensure they can take advantage of the incoming jobs.”

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