Written by Phil Treaton, Head of Neighbourhoods, Groundwork Greater Manchester

Did you know that…

To meet the UK governments 2050 zero carbon target, it’s estimated that 27 million homes will need retrofitting, many of which will be occupied by those facing multiple challenges and therefore need various forms of support to undertake the required improvements.

So far, Government support has been announced in the form of the Sustainable Warmth Competition, providing local authorities with upgrades to on-gas and off-gas properties, as well as the Green Homes Grant, which was launched in September 2020 but quickly dropped in March 2021. The latest announcement in September 2022 will provide £1.5billion through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund and Home Upgrade Grant schemes, allowing social housing providers and local authorities to submit bids for funding to upgrade the properties of around 130,000 low-income and social households

As funding streams for the required retrofitting works are established, Groundwork seeks to address a potential challenge of the future; Who will complete the retrofitting works? And how?

Housing Refurbishment Programme

Groundwork has been delivering a Housing Refurbishment programme for over 12 years; utilizing a Traineeship model to help young people gain entry level construction jobs. Traineeships prepare young people for their future careers by helping them to become ‘work ready’. Groundwork provides the essential work preparation training as well as maths, English and work experience, making sure the young person is ready for an Apprenticeship or job.

However, the unique part of Groundwork’s Housing Refurbishment programme is the fact that participants gain real, hands-on experience during the course, moving quickly from the classroom to refurbishing a void property.

Retrofitting Opportunities

Most void properties lack any energy efficiency measures, and as such housing refurbishment projects provide a great opportunity for young people on our programmes to install energy efficiency measures. As well as basic skills in carpentry, plastering and tiling, our Housing Refurbishment employment programme now include retrofitting skills including draught proofing, insulation, and sustainable construction practices. This prepares young participants with the skills and experience they will need for the retrofitting revolution in our near future.

In addition to both the training opportunity and the potential carbon savings from a refurbished home, once a property is redeveloped by Groundwork, it re-enters the housing stock, providing a space for someone who is often desperate for a warm, and affordable home.

Accessible, Warm Homes

Our Housing Refurbishment programme works with landlords to redevelop their void properties and in exchange for sourcing funding and undertaking the work, Groundwork becomes the property portfolio holder for up to 10 years. During that time rental payments are used to cover the initial costs of the improvement works however we are adamant that rent is charged at only 80% of Local Housing Allowance wherever possible. This provides opportunities to those who face the most challenges accessing housing; typically, we work with referral partners who can help care leavers and veterans with housing.

Our property portfolio currently stands at 20, and supports 50 people with safe, warm homes. Since it began 12years ago, our Housing Refurbishment programme has provided over 120 people with construction skills.

Little by little, and street by street, Groundwork’s Housing Refurbishment programme can help tackle environmental and social issues:

  • Improving the prospects of those involved in the training
  • Improving the opportunities to those who can now live in the redeveloped properties
  • Improving the local area, improving what is often an eyesore for the neighbours.

If you’d like to talk to us about partnership opportunities on this programme please get in touch with Phil Treaton, Head of Neighbourhoods.