Andy Burnham hosts key housing figures to discuss energy crisis

Business leaders in Greater Manchester have joined Mayor Andy Burnham to discuss the region’s transition to net-zero and its role in tackling the energy crisis.
NatWest’s CEO of Retail Banking, David Lindberg; Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham and NatWest’s Regional Director, Steve Sankson

Key business leaders in Greater Manchester have joined Mayor Andy Burnham to discuss the region’s transition to net-zero and its role in tackling the UK’s energy crisis.

Hosted by NatWest at its Manchester office on 12 April, the roundtable brought together members of the bank’s new Sustainable Homes and Buildings Coalition, launched last year to address the blockers to net-zero and to ensure a consumer-centric approach, and two Manchester housing associations leading the way in sustainable action.

Reducing carbon emissions from homes and buildings is one of the biggest challenges preventing the UK from achieving net-zero targets by 2050 as buildings account for around 15% of total UK emissions. Greater Manchester Combined Authority has a target to achieve net-zero by 2038, which means the region needs to mobilise urgently to meet this goal, whilst supporting a just transition.

Salix Homes and Great Places Housing Group joined Mr Burnham, NatWest’s CEO of Retail Banking, David Lindberg; Regional Director, Steve Sankson; and its Director & Sustainability lead, Marcos Navarro alongside other Coalition representatives from Shelter and Worcester Bosch.

The discussion looked at how the group can help the region to deliver net-zero while supporting communities during the cost of living & energy crisis. With the most vulnerable members of society expected to be the worst hit by the increased costs, the Coalition focuses on a ‘social housing first’ approach.

The Manchester meeting re-confirmed that some of the main challenges preventing the delivery of mass scale retrofit across the UK can be linked to a lack of financial viability connected to retrofit projects, technical limitations on stock and a lack of clarity on zero carbon standards. It was made clear that supply chain challenges and a lack of skills is also holding progress back.

The group indicated that there are many ways to improve the viability of retrofitting social housing properties, such as:

  • Reviewing the rent & service charge methodology currently used so that housing associations can recover their investment costs
  • Increasing the level of public funding via grants
  • Obtain low-cost funding from the private sector reducing capital costs
  • Invest in skills, technology & supply chain

Sue Sutton, CEO of Salix Homes, an award-winning social housing provider in Salford, joined the discussion to consider the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Throughout the discussion, Ms Sutton offered insight into the challenges faced by her employees, residents and social housing providers in the area, suggesting that more support is needed from the Government and funders to retrofit social rent homes and kick-start behaviour change. Local representatives shared a desire for the region to be a catalyst for the sustainable housing market, inspiring other areas to follow suit.

NatWest has been supporting Salix Homes since 2015 and the bank has recently helped to finance its flagship Greenhaus development on Chapel Street, which will bring 96 affordable homes to Salford. The apartment block is currently being constructed to Passivhaus standards, a method of low-energy construction to build thermally efficient, ‘green’ homes with minimal energy required to provide heating and hot water.

Sue Sutton, CEO of Salix Homes, said: “It was fantastic to join so many like-minded individuals on this roundtable and discuss how we can work towards Greater Manchester’s target of becoming net-zero by 2038. Collaboration at a local level will be key to meeting targets and there is much to be done in the social housing sector, so it’s always beneficial to share ideas and best practices with others. At a time when affordable housing is in short supply and the built environment is suffering from a major skills shortage, it can be difficult to put sustainability at the top of a housebuilder’s agenda. However, we remain committed to delivering high quality, sustainable, eco-homes for the future, as well as upgrading as much of our existing stock as possible, to ensure we’re leaders in creating sustainable properties across Salford.”

Image (L-R): NatWest’s CEO of Retail Banking, David Lindberg; Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham and NatWest’s Regional Director, Steve Sankson

Related Posts