Council wins funding for £7.6m scheme to improve energy efficiency in 300 council homes

Published: Wednesday, 22nd March 2023

Oxford City Council has won government funding for a £7.6 million investment programme to improve energy efficiency in more than 300 council homes in the next two years.

An award of up to £2.6 million from the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF), with the remaining costs match funded from the council’s housing revenue account (HRA), will allow the council to create its largest retrofit programme to date.

The programme will target 316 homes – around 12% of council homes with an EPC (energy performance certificate) D or below.

Retrofitting involves adding new features to existing buildings and the programme will take a ‘fabric first’ approach. This means improving buildings to minimise energy use through modifications like enhanced insulation and air tightness and optimising natural ventilation.

Improving energy efficiency in council homes will benefit tenants, helping them to reduce energy use as the cost of gas and electricity continues to rise sharply. Modelling suggests the retrofit programme could deliver energy bill savings of up to £400 a year at current prices.

It will also support the council’s work towards a net zero carbon Oxford by 2040. Residential buildings are the largest contributor to Oxford’s carbon emissions, making up 29% of total emissions. Social housing accounts for around a fifth of all emissions from housing.

Why this is needed

The council has a target of getting 95% of its 8,000 council homes to an EPC C or above by 2030.

A new generation of council homes now being delivered by council housing company OX Place is highly energy efficient, with a typical EPC rating of at least B. This is not true for all council homes, most of which were built before the 1980s.

Oxford City Council currently has 2,466 council homes with an EPC D or below and achieving the 95% target will require substantial investment. Independent consultants estimate this could cost up to £151 million in total.

The current four year HRA business plan includes £8.7 million for retrofitting council homes, with another £37 million earmarked for capital spend in the following 10 years.

Next steps

The council has undertaken an analysis of its least energy efficient homes to target for retrofitting, with particular types of homes identified for inclusion in the programme.

Council officers have been discussing the proposed retrofit work with tenant representatives in recent months. Detailed engagement with individual tenants will take place now that SHDF funding has been awarded.

The council will now begin to resource the work including using its direct services company ODS, which has PAS2030 certification – a government-backed specification for the installation of energy efficiency measures in existing buildings.

Under the terms of SHDF funding, all work must be completed by the end of March 2025.


“We’ve got a target of bringing 95% of council homes up to EPC C by 2030 and we’ve got too many older homes not up to that standard.

“The SHDF funding will help us create a £7.6 million retrofit programme bringing more than 300 council homes up to EPC C or better. This will mean crucial energy bill savings for tenants of up to £400 a year and help us deliver on our strategic priorities of great homes for all and housing for a net zero carbon future.

“But this can only be a start. While we plan substantial investment from our HRA to improve energy efficiency in council homes we cannot do this alone. The scale of the challenge is clear and we will need significant, sustained government funding to achieve our target.”  

Councillor Linda Smith, cabinet member for housing

“The SHDF award is fantastic news for Oxford and council tenants.

“The retrofit programme is based on promoting warmth and health through the implementation of a fabric first approach. This approach involves tailoring retrofit improvements to different housing types, such as loft and exterior insulation, new windows and doors, thermal breaks and ventilation.

“These improvements will make it easier for tenants to maintain a comfortable temperature in their homes – even if they are trying to save money on heating. Fabric first improvements can also help address issues such as condensation and mould that are caused by excess moisture on cold exterior walls and windows. By minimising the transfer of cold to inside surfaces and managing high moisture sources, tenants will be able to enjoy warmer, drier and healthier homes.”

Kathleen O’Donnell, tenant ambassador