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    Council pledges £50 million to retrofit homes

    Daisy Aitchison reports on council plans to boost energy efficiency in homes.

    Oxford City Council is set to spend over £50 million in order to retrofit council homes, it has been announced

    The scheme is going ahead as part of the council’s Local Plan and aims to ensure that all Oxford council tenants’ properties meet the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Band C standard as a minimum by 2030. At the moment just 50% of properties have reached this level.

    The funding for the scheme, which comes on top of £7 million already pledged to tackle environmental issues, will be financed by a mixture of council borrowing and government funding linked to the Clean Growth Strategy. This project is looking at “decarbonising all sectors of the UK economy through the 2020s” and ensuring that the whole country can “benefit from low carbon opportunities, while meeting national and international commitments to tackle climate change”.

    Councillor Tom Hayes, deputy leader and cabinet member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford, expressed his support for the initiative, saying that “Oxford can’t deal with our carbon problem until we deal with our building emissions problem.

    “Despite the impacts of the pandemic on our council’s finances, we will be making huge investments in our 7,800 council homes. We want to work with tenants to make their homes more energy efficient, reduce emissions, and save them money. By showing leadership, we want private landlords and homeowners to join with us in making retrofitting investments in their own homes.”

    Oxford City Council is aiming to create a zero carbon city by 2040. A key part of ensuring this happens is retrofitting homes, given that residential buildings are the single largest contributor to total emissions. 

    Councillor Mike Rowley, the cabinet minister for affordable housing, has also noted the need to balance reducing emissions with tackling the homelessness crisis in Oxford. Commenting on the scheme, he said: “Our homes are essential for a successful society. They provide shelter and a safe space for us. But those homes need to be fit for purpose. They need to be ready for the challenges we face over the coming decades. 

    “We will lead the way in retrofitting our council housing stock to create better environments for people – and we will work with our tenants every step of the way. The measures being implemented will see tenants benefitting from lower energy bills. This will be supported by our ongoing commitment to developing further homes for the Oxford community by way of Oxford City Housing Limited.”

    Image: Christine Westerbank. License: CC BY-SA 2.0.

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