BEIS announces successful bids to Wave 1 of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund

In their 2019 manifesto, the Government committed to delivering a £3.8bn Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) over a ten-year period to upgrade the energy performance of social rented homes below EPC C. The aims of the Fund are to “deliver warm, energy-efficient homes, reduce carbon emissions and fuel bills, tackle fuel poverty, and support green jobs”.

An SHDF Demonstrator was launched in August 2021 with an initial investment of £62m from the overall fund. The NHC’s analysis showed that successful bids in the North represented only 14% of the funding allocated in England through the Demonstrator round: Sunderland City Council, Manchester City Council, and Leeds City Council were the successful Northern local authorities.

At the Spending Review last autumn, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, announced that £800m will be made available through the SHDF over the Spending Review period (until 2025). Bids for Wave 1 of SHDF were subsequently opened to competitive bids led by local authorities, the results of which were published this month.

Wave 1 totalled nearly £179m granted to 69 lead local authorities across England. Our analysis of the allocation shows that 19 of these 69 local authorities are in the North with funding totalling around £63m coming to the region. This represents 35% of total funding allocated through Wave 1 which is a significant improvement on the 14% the North received through the Demonstrator round.

All successful bids can be seen here and the regional breakdown in the North (rounded to nearest £100,000) is set out below:

Yorkshire and Humber LAs  Total
City of York £300k
Doncaster £3.2m
Hull £1.2m
Leeds £3.6m
Leeds £6m
West Yorkshire CA £5.1m
Rotherham £1.5m
Barnsley £1.7m
Total £22.6m
North West LAs  Total
Allerdale £1.2m
Blackpool £1.4m
Cheshire East £1.6m
Cheshire West and Chester £600k
Greater Manchester CA £10.5m
Liverpool City Region CA £11.1m
Total £26.4m
North East LAs  Total
Durham £6m
Newcastle £3.2m
Northumberland £1.2m
Sunderland £1.2m
Tees Valley CA £2.6m
Total £14.2m


Wave 1 of funding is anticipated to support the retrofitting of around 7,800 homes in the North, with successful projects expected to be completed by the end of March 2023. Responding to the announcement, the NHC’s Chief Executive Tracy Harrison said:

“Readying our homes to achieve net zero is a key priority for Northern Housing Consortium members, and we therefore welcome the news that Wave 1 of SHDF funding will support the retrofitting of approximately 7,800 Northern homes. We urgently need to build on this and look forward to continuing to work with the government to improve the energy efficiency of homes in the North.”

We are delighted that our local authority members listed above have been successful in their bids for Wave 1 of SHDF funding, and for many of their housing association partners that will deliver the projects. For example, the £2.6m awarded to the Tees Valley will be match-funded by £2.25m from NHC members Darlington Borough Council, Beyond Housing, Thirteen and North Star to lead the upgrading of homes across the region. Similarly, the ten Greater Manchester Housing Providers will use the £10.5m funding to upgrade nearly 1,300 homes in the region. Plans have also emerged from Torus, Gentoo, Peaks & Plains, Guinness and Plus Dane, and others.

Many of our members are already preparing their bids for Wave 2 of funding, which the Government have confirmed will launch in the next financial year. Turner and Townsend will continue to provide technical advice and project development support to those preparing SHDF bids through the Social Housing Retrofit Accelerator.

The NHC will continue to engage with BEIS through our role in the SHDF Consultative Panel and through other engagements to ensure the Fund works for our members. We know that upgrading the North’s homes will reduce carbon emissions, alleviate fuel poverty, and bring new skills and jobs to the region, so we will continue to work with our members to support them to deliver for people and communities across the North.

We are hosting a series of virtual events on housing retrofit following on from the recommendations developed by the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury, check them out on MyNHC.

Please do not hesitate to follow up on any of this with the NHC by contacting Anna Seddon (Policy and Public Affairs Officer) at

Levelling Up Conference: Housing at the Heart of a Rebalanced Country

The February 2022 Levelling Up White Paper has made a start on rebalancing geographic inequalities, however there is much more to be done. Whether it’s ‘Levelling Up’, regeneration, or rebalancing. Whatever we or the Government call it, registered housing providers have a central role to play in working collaboratively across areas and sectors to develop sustainable local economies and support personal economic wellbeing.

The sector has a pivotal role to play in place-shaping and regeneration.

To this end, the Northern Housing Consortium in partnership with Karbon Homes and Bolton at Home, are bringing senior leaders together for a no-cost, full day conference focussed on the now defined Levelling Up agenda.

Levelling Up Conference: Housing at the Heart of a Rebalanced Country takes place Thursday 14th July 2022, 10.00 -16.30, at the Hilton – Leeds City.

Part response to the White Paper, part knowledge sharing opportunity. The day will promote the invaluable place-based work housing providers undertake in partnership to support the long-term economic wellbeing of their neighbourhoods. In doing so, we will advance housing’s role in the core Levelling Up missions of improving public services, boosting living standards, restoring local pride, and empowering communities.

With an exciting agenda soon to be announced, the event will include a mix of keynote speakers, good practice case studies, and a consistent focus on networking and collaboration.

For further information and to confirm your attendance, register via MyNHC:

Mission accepted: the Levelling Up White Paper and housing in the North

It’s five years since the 2017 Housing White Paper, Fixing our Broken Housing Market, which set out a package of reforms firmly focused on increasing the supply of new homes. Five years on, the Levelling Up White Paper, with its declaration that ‘Nowhere is the need for making opportunity more equal more urgent than in housing’ sets out a very different prescription on housing – it’s a sign that focus is shifting in Westminster, says NHC Executive Director (Policy and Public Affairs) Brian Robson.

Housing strategies don’t come along quite as often as new housing ministers, but they do emerge with a fair degree of regularity. 2007’s Homes for the Future: more affordable, more sustainable was followed by 2011’s Laying the Foundations; and then by 2017’s Fixing our Broken Housing Market. On that basis, we’re due a housing policy shake-up around now – and the Levelling Up White Paper appears to have delivered it.

Fixing our Broken Housing Market placed heavy emphasis on boosting the supply of new homes in the right places. Existing homes were covered in three short paragraphs within a 106-page document. By contrast, the Levelling Up White Paper makes housing quality a priority, with Michael Gove’s foreword calling for a ‘transformation in the quality of housing’.

The White Paper sets out a mission on housing that is broader than just new supply: By 2030, renters will have a secure path to ownership with the number of first-time buyers increasing in all areas; and the government’s ambition is for the number of non-decent rented homes to have fallen by 50%, with the biggest improvements in the lowest performing areas.’

This focus on quality fits with what the Consortium is hearing from our contacts in Westminster and Whitehall: there’s a real shift in thinking on housing, with the Secretary of State taking a keen interest in the quality of existing accommodation. Some have said as much on-the-record: the Director of the Levelling Up Task Force (and former Homes England Deputy CEO) Tom Walker told the Convention of the North earlier this month that the Levelling Up White Paper represents a “very bold change in emphasis on housing policy” with “an emphasis on quality that hasn’t been there for several years… it’s a very significant change.”

So, what does this mean for housing in the North?

The mission on decency has significant implications for our region. If Government wants to see the biggest improvements in the lowest performing areas, we’re going to see particular focus on housing quality in the North West and Yorkshire. Across tenures, Northern Housing Monitor analysis shows non-decency running above the national average in both regions; with Yorkshire recording a rate of failure on the minimum standard criterion that is 50% above the England average. Non-decent homes tend to be older: 46% of the North’s non-decent homes were built pre-1919 and a further 22% between 1919 and 1944. These homes are particularly likely to be found in the North’s villages and isolated rural areas, and in the most deprived decile of neighbourhoods.

It should be noted that the mission excludes a large proportion of the North’s non-decent homes : those that are owner-occupied. 56% of vulnerable residents living in a non-decent home in the North are doing so in a home they own. This is a hard truth that Government will need to confront before long.

In terms of next steps, Government has made clear that further detail will be set out upon conclusion of the Decent Homes Review. We’re also expecting a Private Renting White Paper later this year. The first phase of the Decent Homes Standard Review – looking at the existing standard – has now concluded. The DLUHC Sounding Board, which the NHC is part of, is awaiting ministerial go-ahead for phase two – which will develop the new standard. It’s worth noting that the figures cited above are based on the existing (fairly basic) standard – a higher standard, especially on energy efficiency, will likely bring more homes into the mission’s scope.

Where does this leave supply?

The mission retains a focus on increasing rates of homeownership. Housing associations and councils in the North have a role to play here. The Northern Housing Monitor finds that delivery of shared ownership housing across the North has averaged around 2,600 homes per year in recent years. Independent assessments suggest the market for low-cost home ownership products in the North is in excess of 5,000 homes per year. There’s a lot of scope to increase delivery of low-cost home ownership products in the North, whilst being careful to protect the delivery of low-cost rented homes, where there’s a huge shortfall of social rented homes.

The White Paper also brings good news on policy changes likely to boost supply in the North: the end of the arbitrary ‘80/20’ geographical funding mechanism will be welcomed; and there’s also news on two key NHC priorities: the Brownfield Housing Fund and Homes England’s role.  £120m of brownfield funding has been announced for Mayoral Combined Authorities, and 77% of this is heading North – an increase on the 69% that was allocated to Northern MCAs in the last round. We’re also pleased to see Homes England’s role being refocused to drive forward regeneration – this was a key plank of our Spending Review submission and something we’ve been discussing with the Agency’s new leadership since last Spring.

And the 2017 White Paper isn’t dead – we understand work is beginning at DLUHC to ‘refresh’ the commitments made in that White Paper.

Will this shift last?

Even with a majority administration, UK politics is remarkably volatile. As the history of housing white papers shows, things change fast – and these are long-term missions. Even so, I think there’s reason for some cautious optimism.

I’d offer three early tests of the Government’s commitment to the housing mission:

  1. The Levelling Up White Paper tells us to expect a Private Rented Sector White Paper in ‘the Spring’. Does this emerge on time, and how ambitious is it on quality?
  2. How quickly does the Decent Homes Review progress, and is the same enhanced standard intended to be applied to the social and private rented sectors?
  3. We’ve been waiting for Government’s response to a consultation on raising Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards in the private rented sector to EPC C for over 12 months. There have been some suggestions this might set a lower investment cap in ‘low rent areas’. This would be inconsistent with the housing quality mission – there must be a funding mechanism that avoids leaving parts of the North behind.

In the longer-term, the mission needs to marry higher standards with increased investment. The Northern Housing Monitor shows that bringing all the North’s existing rented homes up to the current relatively basic decent homes standard would cost £2.6bn (£2bn of that in the private rented sector alone). We need to see integration of energy efficiency investment with investment in wider decency – an exercise in cross-government coordination that will need all the wiles of a Whitehall operator like Michael Gove. Of course, devolving the funding – as the NHC has suggested in the past – would remove this integration headache for Government.

I’m definitely glass-half-full on the White Paper. The missions provide a long-term framework, and the fact some of them are carried over from the previous Industrial Strategy is positive – it suggests that long-term missions can outlive policy fads. The job for housing in the North is to ensure the newfound focus on quality achieves longevity. Mission accepted.

You can discuss the White Paper, and the role housing in the North can play on delivering on a range of levelling-up missions at our Homes at the Heart of a Rebalanced Country conference in Leeds on July 14th. Places are free for NHC members, and the event is arranged with the support of Karbon Homes and Bolton at Home.  Book your free place now, using MyNHC.

NHC appears before Commons Committee

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee is continuing its inquiry examining the quality and regulation of social housing in England.  Written evidence has been published, including the written evidence submitted by the NHC.

The LUHC’s inquiry is examining concerns about the quality of social housing, with a focus on the ability of the Regulator of Social Housing and the Housing Ombudsman to identify and address problems. The inquiry is also focussing on the proposals in the Government’s Social Housing White Paper aimed at improving the regulatory regime.

The Committee has started its oral evidence sessions. The first session held on 17 January heard from representatives of tenants and individual housing associations who gave evidence on the quality of social housing and how widespread and serious are the concerns about housing quality.

The second evidence session held on 7 February met with local authority and housing association representatives and focused on questions around the condition of social housing, financial pressures on housing providers, and the roles of the Housing Ombudsman and Regulator of Social Housing.

The NHC were invited to give oral evidence to the second session which included questioning on the reasons for the poor quality of some social housing and also the proposals in the Government’s social housing White Paper aimed at improving the regulatory regime.  Witnesses were also questioned on the conditions revealed in media investigations, which showed examples of sub-standard accommodation across a number of councils and housing associations.

Further oral evidence sessions are expected to be held and news about further events can be found here.

If you need any information about the NHC’s evidence to the inquiry, please contact Karen Brown

Melting the money iceberg with Society matters cic

As the cost of living crisis continues to bite, what options does the social housing sector have at its disposal to hold back the tide in the form of practical and effective help? What support can they offer tenants facing the apparent inevitability of debt, and how can they bolster their own defences against an ever-increasing risk of rent arrears?

For fear of stating the obvious, there really are just two options available – supporting households to increase their income and reduce their costs. Easily said …

Society Matters cic is a national social welfare training operation set up by northern charity Citizens Advice Gateshead as a trading subsidiary in pursuit of its vision of ‘a fair society for all, with lives well lived’. The charity recognised a few years ago that just continuing to respond to the crises presented to them daily because people had – for whatever reason – got out of control of their finances, could only ever be a response, not a resolution, and the further into crisis these people are the more difficult it becomes to turn the tide. The distress experienced by someone in a state of crisis is so great, but often we think it’s also unavoidable. So the charity set out on a mission to ‘mobilise knowledge so the system works, and it works for everyone’ and by achieving this so, in turn, would we start to enable equality.

In practice that means making sure that the people and organisations ‘in the system’ (and we’ve intentionally not defined what that is – because it can involve so many aspects of people’s lives, from the utility company to the employer to the landlord), are empowered to help people to avoid getting into financial difficulties, and when there are signs that things are going wrong they can catch them before they fall.

It is well recognised, for example, that health and poverty are intrinsically linked, so if we’re recognising a health problem, by looking at the whole person we can anticipate that this is highly likely to also manifest itself as problems with money fairly immediately, and vice versa. Problems with mental health are both a cause and an effect of debt. Not being able to heat a home will often lead to or exacerbate a health problem, which in turn can impact on household income. Equally, if a tenant is struggling to pay their rent, in most cases that’s an indicator of a significantly deeper problem. As a charity we often find that a single crisis issue presented to us by a client, say the threat of eviction, is the tip of an iceberg that can unravel into up to a dozen or more issues, many of which have been left to fester below the surface to ultimately lead to up to that day the notice arrived. And when we say crisis, that has often come about as a direct result of someone trying to find their own solution to a money issue with only limited options available to them. Gambling, high interest door-step lending and prostitution are rarely life choices, but what might appear to be a way out for someone desperate in the absence of other alternatives.

So, if we return to that simplistic formula of enabling tenants to spend less money and gain more, what practical support can Society Matters cic offer to the social housing sector in an attempt to start melting the iceberg? Mobilising knowledge really is the key. For a start, you don’t know what you don’t know. If you’ve never dug into options for income maximisation through in-work benefits, charitable grants, accessible support for carers or disabled tenants, then how can you be expected to be able to point people in the right direction? If you don’t know what support is available for someone facing debt, to avoid the situation spiralling further out of control, you would be understandably fearful of providing reassurance or guidance for fear of making the situation worse.

As housing is such a fundamental foundation stone of people’s lives, we need to put this right.  If the housing provider has the knowledge and confidence to paint a picture of what might be possible to a tenant, to help them to slow the downward spiral and put them on the right track to balance their household books, and an accessible and impartial buffer can be put in place to take over as early as possible, then the system starts to work.

Society Matters cic has dug deep into the knowledge and acute, front-end expertise of its advisory team to find a way to mobilise knowledge to make the system work, and the result is a programme of quality, affordable learning and development for professionals working across the housing, employability, justice, utilities and community and voluntary sectors, and for employers who are committed to supporting the welfare of their staff.  Workshops and courses are delivered exclusively online in a highly interactive virtual classroom environment for between 2 and 6 hours, and many bring with them CPD accreditation providing both a reassurance of quality and the opportunity for your staff teams to gain evidence of their own commitment to their professional development.

You can find out more about the training on offer at and to explore options for direct access to social welfare advice and information services for tenants and housing teams who need accessible, impartial and quality assured solutions, please get in touch.


Jayne Graham MBE FIEP

Director of Society Matters cic/Commercial Director of Citizens Advice Gateshead