Across England, there is a chronic shortage of affordable homes – with the National Housing Federation reporting that there are now 4.2 million people in the country in need of social housing.
At the same time, much of the current housing stock is not energy efficient – meaning that residents are struggling with rapidly increasing energy bills. As part of the country’s net-zero 2050 target, social housing providers have been set targets to increase the efficiency of all properties, yet the cost of retrofitting all social homes in the UK to zero carbon is expected to top £100bn.
While the macro conditions may be extremely challenging, a number of housing association are taking important steps to support their own tenants and communities now, including SHAL Housing in Somerset.
Supporting local people
SHAL is committed to creating affordable housing options for all, from young people, families and first-time buyers, to older and more vulnerable people who may have additional needs. As a not-for-profit organisation SHAL re-invests all its profits, reducing its reliance on government investment and allowing it to increase its services.
The association currently manages over 750 properties, including homes for rent and shared ownership. It is particularly focused on the needs of Somerset’s rural population, who often face the difficult challenge of high house prices and rent, combined with lower wages.
The majority of SHAL’s accommodation is in the Bridgwater area, but it also works across wider Somerset, with housing in Cheddar, Taunton and Minehead.
New finance to help increase impact
SHAL has been a Triodos lending customer since 2016 and has recently worked with the bank to increase its lending facility to £20m. These funds will be used to build additional affordable homes and to make its existing properties more environmentally friendly.
“SHAL can now invest £10m in new developments over the next five years and over £2m in improving our existing stock to reach EPC C by 2030,” comments Neil Allan, finance director of SHAL. “Triodos fully understand the financial impact of the investment and provided a supportive covenant suite to enable this to happen.”
SHAL plans to build over 50 new homes in the next five years, helping to address the growing demand for affordable housing. Constructed to meet the highest environmental building standards, the new homes will benefit from air source heat pumps and solar panels, as well as having a high level of insulation. Rated at the highest possible EPC level (A), these energy efficient homes will be more affordable to run, offering financial savings for residents.
As well as building new homes, SHAL is investing to improve the Energy Performance Ratings (EPCs) of its existing homes. SHAL is taking a ‘fabric first’ approach to improving insulation, before installing solar panels and air source heat pumps which will bring the energy efficiency of existing housing stock into line with that of new homes.
“This example shows the role housing associations can play in decarbonising the sector, offering an excellent demonstration of how environmental action and positive impact for society can go hand in hand,” explains Peter Borgers, senior relationship manager at Triodos Bank UK.
“We are very pleased to help fund SHAL’s development programme and, as the bank works to realise its 2035 net-zero commitment, we hope to support other similar initiatives.”
For Triodos, it's clear that we need to tackle the challenges of providing affordable homes and combatting the climate crisis together, rather than in isolation. This means supporting more organisations like SHAL Housing, as well as offering innovative funding mechanisms that appreciate the long-term value for all of energy efficiency measures.
SHAL is a community-based provider of social housing with over 750 homes for rent and shared ownership across Somerset. Its proud to provide safe, warm and affordable homes in its community.
The National Housing Federation defines social housing is more affordable than housing on the open market. It can be rented from housing associations or councils at reduced rents, or it can be part-sold, part-rented as shared ownership. It exists to help people who can’t afford to rent or buy a home on the open market, and is usually built with the support of government funding.
Supporting the path to net zero
Triodos finances housing associations and co-operatives because they provide affordable housing for the people who need it most.
One of Triodos’s key roles over the coming years is to support lending customers looking to upgrade existing properties to make them more energy efficient and net-zero ready.