A new report has revealed a gap between tenants’ concerns about climate change and their understanding of the concept of reaching net zero.
Research by Orbit Homes and the Chartered Institute for Housing (CIH) found that although almost three-quarters of social housing residents believed climate change was already impacting their lives, only 40% who had heard of climate change zero carbon understood what that meant.
Almost a fifth (17%) had never heard of the term zero carbon, according to the survey.
The study follows a recent poll by Home Group and YouGov which found nearly two-thirds of housing residents had never heard of net zero.
The new report found that nearly four-fifths of respondents were concerned about climate change.
The research also provided insight into how much the average social housing tenant spends on heating their home. More than half of tenants spent more than 10% of their take home pay on energy bills, more than double the average expenditure in the UK, and a quarter had gone without heating during the year elapsed, mainly to save costs.
More than half of respondents (57%) have changed energy supplier in recent years.
Paul Richards, Customer Group and Communities Director at Orbit, said: “We all face difficult and complex environmental challenges to accelerate the decarbonisation of UK homes, but to date little consideration has been given to the impact for customers.
“Any property renovation plan should and must reflect the day-to-day priorities of low-income households – we don’t want to push customers further into a position where they have to choose between heating or eating as a result of decarbonisation.
“Our research demonstrates that building an ongoing relationship with customers on this program and undertaking further work to understand the short- and long-term plans and associated costs of moving to net zero carbon is essential. including the development of future energy pricing policies.”
James Prestwich, Director of Policy and External Affairs at CIH, added: “Reaching net zero by 2050 will only happen if landlords and tenants work together to drive the systemic and behavioral changes required. “Tenants will look to their housing providers for answers on how new technologies will work and benefit them in their homes and help mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.
He added that the report highlighted “the importance of true collaboration and cooperation between landlords and tenants”.
Social housing owners face significant costs to make homes more energy efficient. The government has pledged £3.8bn as part of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, which was reaffirmed last week by Housing Minister Christopher Pincher at the CIH Housing 2021 conference in Manchester.