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Sat February 27 2021

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London boroughs seek support for green retrofit work

3 Nov 20 London boroughs have pitched for central government money to support the retrofit of energy inefficient buildings in the capital.

Hackney Light & Power, Hackney Council's renewable energy services company, has installed solar panels at the West Reservoir Centre
Hackney Light & Power, Hackney Council's renewable energy services company, has installed solar panels at the West Reservoir Centre

London boroughs have identified 375 shovel-ready projects, representing a £1.35bn pipeline of work – including the retrofitting of 18 large public buildings, 29 schools and thousands of homes across the capital.

The councils have found £950m for the work but need an additional £115m in 2020/21 to make progress on the full list of retrofitting projects. 

In its submission to the government’s upcoming spending review, the cross-party umbrella group London Councils lays out the obvious environmental and economic benefits of investment in green infrastructure and retrofitting.

Philip Glanville, mayor of Hackney and chair of London Councils’ transport and environment committee, said: “Investment in a green recovery is essential for securing our environmental and economic future. We’ve identified shovel-ready projects and are eager to do our bit – but councils urgently need more support from the government.

“The investment case is a no-brainer. Funding retrofitting projects brings immediate benefits to Londoners such as new jobs and lower fuel bills while also addressing the climate emergency and helping us reduce carbon emissions. 

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“London boroughs are fully committed to the green recovery agenda and are putting significant resources into retrofitting. But in the face of both the economic and the climate crisis, ministers should seize the day and use the upcoming spending review to boost funding for this crucial work.”

Although several boroughs have secured funds under the government’s Green Homes Grants local authority delivery scheme, many missed out because they were only given a month to makes submissions and all projects need to be completed by March 2021 to be eligible.

Boroughs are urging the government to improve long-term support for the financing of retrofitting, including the introduction of a separate borrowing rate at the Public Works Loans Board for councils to access finance for green infrastructure.

London Councils’ submission to the spending review makes the case for restoring stability to local government finances and giving boroughs greater assurance over future funding for services and infrastructure. Even though London’s population has grown by 12% over the past decade (almost twice the rate of growth across the rest of England) and boroughs now serve nearly a million more people than in 2010, council budgets have endured consistent reductions in recent years. The overall resources available to London local government has fallen by more than a quarter in real terms since 2010-11, London Councils said.

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