900 council homes below energy efficiency standards

Colchester town centre

It was revealed last week that 900 of the 5,800 properties owned by Colchester Borough Homes have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating below “C”. - Credit: Charlie Riddler LDRS

A council that turned down the chance to bid for government money to improve energy efficiency has 900 homes below the current standards. 

It was revealed last week that 900 of the 5,800 properties owned by Colchester Borough Homes have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating below “C”.

The Government wants all homes in the UK to reach at least a C rating by 2035. EPC ratings grade the performance of homes’ energy efficiency, with A being the most efficient and G being the least.

Colchester Borough Council's Andrew Ellis (Con, Marks Tey and Layer) told a meeting on December 2, 50 of the 900 homes were currently being brought up to a C rating with the aim for all homes to be C rated by 2030.

The council turned down an opportunity to ask the Government for money to help bring its homes up to standard, and to develop a plan to retrofit local homes.

It voted instead for an amended motion which resolved to promote the government’s Green Homes Grant.

Councillor Julie Young (Labour, Greenstead) said at the meeting that while Colchester was more energy efficient than other boroughs, help from central government was still needed to tackle the climate change and cost of living crises experienced locally and nationwide.

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She said: “Each year in the UK, hundreds of thousands of families are forced to choose between heating and eating, cold children or hungry children, and many thousands die because they are too cold.”

Proposing the amendment, Councillor Lewis Barber (Con, Lexden and Braiswick) applauded existing government policy, arguing the Green Homes Grant is targeted at low income households in Essex.

According to council documents, the scheme offers a maximum of £10,000 per household towards improving energy efficiency.

He told the meeting: “Insulating homes is a major issue facing our communities and it’s a two-pronged issue in that first and foremost it is having a major impact on our environment and secondly it’s having a major impact on household budgets and that’s particularly true as we enter a difficult winter after a pandemic.”

Former leader of the council Mark Cory (Lib Dem, Wivenhoe) said the previous administration had put £4.4million towards improving the council’s housing stock.

He told the meeting: “It cannot be left to the market and we need to intervene.

Former leader of the council Mark Cory (Lib Dem, Wivenhoe) said the previous administration had put £4.4million towards improving the council’s housing stock.

He told the meeting: “It cannot be left to the market and we need to intervene.

“As I say, the government has offered some policies but they are a small drop in the ocean and our oceans are rising. We need to act now.”

While applications for the Green Homes Grant closed nationally in March 2021, homeowners and landlords can still apply for the local authority delivery scheme.

The council also resolved to working with private landlords and housing associations to ensure the target is met.