Council gets £346,000 fund to make homes more energy efficient

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West Sussex County Council has been awarded funding of £346,904 towards a scheme that will help make homes more energy efficient and reduce fuel bills and fuel poverty.

It follows a successful bid to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

The funding will help the county council develop its ambition to eco-refurbish thousands of homes in West Sussex using the Government’s new initiative ‘Green Deal’.

The grant from the DECC’s ‘Pioneer Places’ fund will allow for early work on trialling energy improvement schemes in homes for demonstration purposes.

Lionel Barnard, deputy leader of the county council, who is responsible for Communities, Environment and Enterprise, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded this pioneer status funding.

“There was very stiff competition for a share of this particular pot of money, and it shows that with support from our Districts and Boroughs, we are recognised at national level for our work in driving this important agenda forward.

“Work has already started to identify areas where the money will be used.

“The intention is that the pilot schemes and demonstration homes will help us learn about the assessment and works processes that are associated with eco-refurbishing properties.”

Lionel said another aim of the demonstration homes would be that people interested in the ‘Green Deal’ would also be able to see the potential benefits of making their homes more energy efficient.

Announcing the grants Energy Secretary Edward Davey said: “The projects we are funding will help people save energy and save money; helping the most vulnerable to heat their homes, and getting the Green Deal market up and running”.

Details of how and where the ‘Pioneer Places’ funding will be used are now being finalised.

Lionel said: “We will be working closely with our District and Borough Council partners to agree a programme of work, and more details will be given in the near future.”

Green Deal is an innovative scheme which allows households, landlords and businesses to invest in energy saving measures for their properties, without having to pay cash up front. The scheme is based on a loan of up to 25 years during which the bill payer pays back the loan from the savings made on their energy bills.

West Sussex County Council wants to develop a scheme to offer the Green Deal locally to residents and potentially businesses.

The Council is looking for a delivery partner to carry out the necessary works to retro-fit eco measures to private residential and social housing, and potentially business properties. Whilst it aims to target 250,000 homes over 25 years, the first phase will include 18,000 properties over three years, at a total cost of up to £75 million, depending on the actual cost of the measures required in each household or business.

The scheme proposed by West Sussex County Council goes further than the basic programme outlined by the government and includes extra renewable heat and power schemes such as solar panels and bio mass boilers.

West Sussex is also keen to see how the opportunities presented by Green Deal can develop the skills and job prospects of the county’s current and future workforce.

The Council is currently discussing with interested suppliers how the Green Deal may be delivered by the council and other local authorities in partnership with the private sector. This market consultation is intended to inform a formal procurement process to contract with a delivery partner.