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Local context: housing demographics, condition and energy efficiency

The New Forest council area contains a private sector housing stock estimated at 76,464 dwellings and over 7,000 social housing dwellings.

Private sector housing in the New Forest is representative of all building eras but is predominantly of post Second World War Construction.

59,773 dwellings (78.2%) were constructed post-1944. Of these dwellings, 23,215 dwellings or 30.4% were constructed post-1980. 16,691 dwellings (21.8%) were constructed pre-1945.

Within this group, 6,669 dwellings (8.7%) were constructed pre-1919; 10,022 dwellings (13.1%) in the inter-war period (1919-1944).

Private sector housing stock in New Forest differs from the national average with significantly higher rates of post 1964 construction and lower rates of pre-1919 construction.

The age of a home is strongly associated with its condition and energy performance. The oldest homes (pre-1919) generally perform less well in these respects than newer homes.

Owner occupation is the predominant private sector tenure accounting for 65,803 dwellings or 86.1%; 10,661 dwellings are within the private-rented market (13.9%).

Home energy efficiency levels are encouraging and above the national average. 68,049 dwellings (94.2%) comply with Decent Homes thermal comfort requirements and the occupied housing stock has an average SAP rating of 66.1 compared to the English private sector average of 62.2 (2018).

Average SAP ratings increase for modern properties ranging from 53.7 for dwellings constructed pre-1919 to 71.3 for dwellings post-1981. Average SAP ratings at 69.6 are also higher within the private-rented sector.

At the sub area level, the lowest average SAP ratings are recorded in National Parks Remainder (53.6) and National Parks Towns (62.4).

Private sector

66,836 occupied private dwellings (92.5) fall within the highest Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) bands (A, B and C) compared to 81.2% of private housing nationally. Conversely the proportion of private dwellings in the lowest EER bands (E, F and G) is below the national average. 6.5% of private dwellings in the New Forest (5,434 dwellings) fall within EER bands E, F and G compared to 18.8% of private dwellings nationally.

With the exception of the National Park energy efficiency ratings show limited variation geographically. Average SAP ratings of 58 for the National Park HMA are significantly below the district average of 66 and impact particularly on the rural remainder of the National Park where the average SAP rating is 55.

Fuel and food poverty

The energy performance of a home has a direct impact on the cost to heat it, which in turn impacts on disposable incomes. Fuel poverty in England is now measured using a Low-Income High Costs framework (LIHC).

Under this definition a household is considered to be fuel poor where they have required fuel costs that are above average, and were they to spend that amount, they would be left with a residual income below the official poverty line.

Under this definition in 2019, 3,777 households in New Forest (5.2%) had low incomes and high fuel costs and were in fuel poverty.

Rates of fuel poverty were below the current 2018 average for England (10.3%) and the South-East regional average of 7.9%.

The recovery from Covid-19 pandemic, exit from the EU and the Russia/Ukraine conflict have had a destabilising effect on the national economy, incomes and prices leading to renewed pressures on household finances, the like of which have not been seen for several decades.It has been well documented how the energy cap price rise of April 2022 and the additional increase of the cap to £2,800 in October 2022 will affect many vulnerable households nationally.

The charity National Energy Action has estimated that price rises in 2021 and April 2022 will lead to an increase in the number of households in fuel poverty (under a different definition) of more than 50%.

This estimate does not take account of any further increases in prices in October 2022.

Following the announcement regarding the October price cap Ofgem warned that 12 million households could be placed into fuel poverty.

Residents of the New Forest will not be immune from these pressures.

There has already been an increase in the number of people aged 16-64 claiming benefits in the New Forest between 2017 and 2021. The increase is beyond the number of new residents each year.

In the New Forest, where over 53% of the housing stock has an EPC of D or worse, the rise in energy costs is likely to see an increase locally in fuel and food poverty.

The New Forest Pathways Project report authored by Parity Projects estimates 5,105 households in the New Forest were in fuel poverty in 2021, placing a greater importance on the council's commitments in Priority 3 of this strategy.

In 2021, New Forest District Council joined together with Local Authorities in the Southern Region to form The Warmer Homes consortium, led by Portsmouth City Council.

The Consortium was successful in a bid to BEIS's Sustainable Warmth Fund for two funding streams: Local Authority Delivery (LAD) 3 and the Home Upgrade Grant (HUG).

The Consortium has been successfully awarded £15.6 million of LAD (phase 3 - on gas) funding and £16.2 million of HUG (Phase 1 funding - off gas), resulting in a £31.8 million programme across the 21 local authority areas involved in the Warmer Homes consortium.

The New Forest district is to be prioritised by the Consortium under phase 1 of its staggered regional marketing approach.

The scheme launches to households in May 2022 and will run until March 2023. In total, the consortium plans to support 1,600 on-gas homes with LAD funding and 1,000 off-gas homes with HUG funding across the southern region. LAD can provide funding of up to £10,000 per on-gas property.

HUG can provide funding of up to £25,000 per off-gas property (cannot be connected to the mains gas network).

The council will be encouraging local landlords and property owners to take up the scheme.

Social housing stock

All social housing providers are preparing and delivering schemes to comply with the following:

  • to upgrade housing stock with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of D or worse to an EPC of C or better by 2030 (Sustainable Warmth Strategy 2021)
  • to end the installation of gas boilers in all new build social housing by 2025 (Future Homes Standard)
  • to phase out the installation of gas boilers from 2035 (Heat and Building Strategy 2021)
  • Net Zero emissions from the council owned properties by 2050 (Climate Change Act 2008 as amended 2019)

In early 2022 the council commissioned a full stock condition survey of its 5,200 properties to provide robust up to date component level data, fabric condition and energy performance certificates.

This work is not due for completion until 2023/24 and our long term retrofit programmes to meet national targets will begin to be phased over the remaining years to 2050 once this data has been submitted to the council, reviewed and assessed.

Carbon footprint and decarbonisation

The total current carbon footprint of the council's social housing stock has been calculated as 11,870 tonnes CO2/ year.

A key driver of the Greener Housing Strategy is identifying how the emissions attributable to the council's housing stock can be reduced to 'net zero' by 2050 in line with the Governments Climate Change Act targets.

This will largely be achieved by a transition away from gas heating, towards low carbon heating systems such as heat pumps.

By implementing the retrofit packages identified, total carbon emissions could be reduced to 2,433 tonnes / year, representing a 79.5% reduction in emissions.

The carbon emission reduction in flats is the lowest.

This is due to challenges presented by flats such as finding suitable positions for Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs) units, introducing cylinders into smaller dwellings that currently have combi boilers, the impact of leaseholders, direct wiring of Photo Voltaic (PV) to individual flats.

As the National Grid continues to decarbonise over time to 2050, these residual emissions will reduce.

Consideration could also be given as to methods for offsetting residual emissions, such as the funding of windfarms and tree planting.

Through an assessment by external energy consultants the council has established estimated costs to meet the current decarbonisation targets at a minimum of £15,000 average cost per property. Sector estimates vary widely, with some landlords predicting costs of up to an average of £40,000 per property.

As the council's data journey is not yet complete the council considers that the current forecast (as at November 2021) of £54m a conservative estimate of retrofit costs.

Assuming an average £40,000 cost per property the total bill could be up to £208m.

These cost projections will be further refined in 2024/25 following the completion of the stock condition survey and will include updated building, material and energy costs.

The council is engaged with a programme to establish a 30-year housing revenue account business plan which will combine these additional retrofit costs with the management, repair, and improvement costs over the same timeline.

This is a significant piece of work and will initially provide short term forecast of costs ahead of the completion of the full stock condition survey of 100% of our housing stock, which will further test and mould our forecasts.

In part, this is behind the council's approach to a mid-term strategy of 10 years, as much of the work to shape our journey towards net zero is required to happen over the next few years.


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