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South & East Lincolnshire Councils Partnership leading the way in delivering the most home upgrade energy improvements in the Midlands

The South & East Lincolnshire Councils Partnership is leading the way in delivering the most Home Upgrade Grants in the Midlands, just two years after starting to build its unique in-house team.

The first phase of Home Upgrade Grants started to be delivered in April 2022 - aimed at properties with no main-gas connection. From a consortium of local authorities which form the Midlands Net Zero Hub, the Partnership has now delivered the highest number of upgraded homes - 172 (25 per cent) - all in South and East Lincolnshire.

The Partnership has also delivered the highest number of installed measures - 27 per cent - and delivered 337 home improvement measures - 181 more than the next highest delivering Local Authority in the Midlands. Improvements include generating energy through installing solar panels and low carbon heating methods such as air source heat pumps, alongside various insulation measures including loft, cavity and external wall insulation.

Outside the consortium, the Partnership also improved an additional 46 properties under HUG1 through a separate funding award.

In total, the Partnership's HUG1 scheme delivered a total of individual 556 measures and saw 77 homes upgraded to EPC Band C or above on average, savings residents an average of £693.50 in their annual bills.

The improvements and upgrades have seen 605 tonnes of Carbon saved annually.

This has all been achieved thanks to two successful funding bids - £929,966 directly from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (now Department for Energy Security and Net Zero) and £3.2-million via the Midlands Net Zero Hub.

Success of the scheme is in no small part down to the establishment of the Partnership's in-house Home Energy Advice and Retrofit Team. The developed of this started following a £2.2 million funding award in 2021 which saw works undertaken on 192 homes with the support of one Sustainable Housing Officer and a Support Officer. Now the team has grown to 9 officers and over the last 18 months, the team has undertaken a wide range of professional development opportunities.

Officers are trained as Domestic Energy Assessors, Retrofit Assessors and Retrofit Coordinators. The wider team has been upskilled through Retrofit Academy training courses in domestic retrofit and retrofit advice and National Energy Action City and Guilds Level 2 and Level 3.

The team's approach to delivery places customers at the centre of the process, ensuring dedicated case officers support them every step of the way from initial survey through to completion, alongside support to operate and register new systems and devices. Decision-making is retained in-house with the team working closely alongside the contractors to ensure works are the most appropriate for the property as part of a PAS:2035 compliant process.

A recent compliance health check by the Retrofit Academy led to praise for the Partnership in how HUG1 has been delivered.

The review found: "The delivery of energy projects by South & East Lincolnshire Councils Partnership stood out as a beacon of good practice in the HUG world. Many local authorities have had struggles with delivering these projects. Your approach is really refreshing in a number of different areas."

Group Manager - Climate Change and Environment, Sarah Baker, oversees the in-house team and said: "The dedication of the team to delivery and to continually broaden their knowledge and understanding of domestic retrofit is fantastic and the results demonstrate just what can be achieved. Our case officers are key to the success of the scheme because they are there to support residents every step of the way throughout what can be a lengthy and complex process."

Cllr Graham Marsh, Portfolio Holder for Carbon Reduction at East Lindsey District Council said: "It is amazing to see the scale in numbers of how many homes have been improved across the sub-region and that means many more residents are living warmer and more energy efficiently in their homes this winter.

"Reducing carbon emissions in a way that supports residents is vitally important for the Partnership. What has been achieved by the Partnership from developing a dedicated team which is now topping the table in terms of delivery in the Midlands is a great achievement and testament to their hard work."

Cllr Callum Butler, Portfolio Holder for Environmental, including Climate Change, said: "What has been achieved with HUG1 funding has been transformational for many households across Boston Borough and the wider sub-region. The Partnership's approach to helping residents live warmer and in more energy efficient homes is being held up as an example of best practice and it is a great achievement for all involved. I look forward to even more residents doing their bit to reduce carbon emissions and be more efficient with the next round of Home Upgrade Grant funding."

Cllr Nick Worth, Leader of South Holland District Council, said: "The Partnership is very proud of what has been achieved and upskilling our officers so they have the expertise and knowledge in all things retrofitting is a great example of how the Partnership is taking the lead in delivering the best outcomes for its residents."

Alongside the HUG1 delivery, the team also delivered £3.6m of capital works to 358 properties under the Local Authority Delivery (LAD3) scheme.

The team has now moved on to complete its first properties under Home Upgrade Grant 2 (HUG2) delivery which will see a targeted 800 properties improved by March 2025.