Share - Energy Efficency in social housing around Europe





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Social Housing in the UK


Social Housing means homes that are owned by local authorities (sometimes called ‘councils’ or ‘local government’) or a Registered Social Landlord (RSL)[1].  RSLs are usually Housing Associations. 

Note - People who live in properties that were previously social housing will not be excluded from the SHARE project.


Since 1979, 1.6 million local authority dwellings have been sold to occupiers –as part of ‘Right to Buy’ sale schemes.  Some of these properties (specially flats) were sold leasehold - which means that the land the properties are on still belong to the Local Authority.  Due to the housing providers requirement to involve them in decisions that affect their environment and their proximity to other tenants – these households will be not be excluded from SHARE activities.

Social housing – England Statistics

According to recent 2005 statistics from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM), there are 20.5 million residential dwellings in England.  Of these there are 3.6 million that are classified as “Social Rented”.

Recent Developments in Social Housing in the UK.

In 2000, the Government introduced a target to make all social housing meet a Decent Homes Standard by 2010.  The definition of the Decent Homes Standard is given at the end of this summary.

In order for local authorities to fund and manage improvements to meet the Decent Homes Standard, they had four options available to them.

1)       Keep their housing stock (Retention) – The local authority will use existing levels of financial resources to bring housing up to the decent homes standard.

2)       Housing Transfer – the management and ownership of council housing will be moved from your local authority to a Registered Social Landlord.   These are generally known as Housing Associations.

3)       Setting up an arms length management organisation (ALMO) – An ALMO is a company set up by the local authority to deliver its housing management services and improve homes to meet the decent homes target.  The Housing stock is still owned by the local authority, but the ALMO can access extra money from Government to fund improvement works if it is considered to be high performing (based on a star rating system).

4)       Private finance Initiative (PRI) – PFI is a method by which Government provides financial support for partnerships been public and private sectors.  The housing stock will still be owned by the local authority. 

In 2005, 2.2 million of the 3.6 million social housing properties were still owned by the local authority (council), ALMO or PFI.  About 1.4 million homes have been transferred to Housing Associations.  

Decent Homes Standard

Briefly, for a home to be decent…

1) It must meet the current statutory minimum standard for housing – From Apriil 2006 this will be - the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

2) It is in a reasonable state of repair

3) It has reasonably modern facilities and services

4) It provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort

The Thermal Criteria…

Efficient heating is defined as any gas or oil programmable central heating or electric storage heaters or programmable LPG/solid fuel central heating or similarly efficient heating systems which are developed in the future.  Heating sources which provide less energy efficient options fail the decent home standard.  Programmable heating is where the timing and the temperature of the heating can be controlled by the occupants.

Because of the differences in efficiency between gas/oil heating systems and the other heating systems listed, the level of insulation that is appropriate also differs:


§  For dwellings with gas/oil programmable heating, cavity wall insulation (if there are cavity walls that can be insulated effectively) or at least 50mm loft insulation (if there is loft space) is an effective package of insulation; and

§  For dwellings heated by electric storage heaters/LPG/programmable solid fuel central heating a higher specification of insulation is required: at least 200mm of loft insulation (if there is a loft) and cavity wall insulation (if there are cavity walls that can be insulated effectively).


In 2000, over 1.5 million social homes were not considered decent. 


[1] Definition from OPDM –Empowering communities Tenants guide 2000.


SHARE - Energy efficiency partner in the UK

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SHARE - Energy efficiency partner in Bulgaria

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SHARE - Energy efficiency partner in Slovenia

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The sole responsibility for the content of this document lies with the authors.  It does not represent the opinion of the European Communities. 

The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.


Social Housing Energy Efficiency in the UK Social Housing Energy Efficiency in Ireland Social Housing Energy Efficiency in Sweden Social Housing Energy Efficiency in Bulgaria

Social Housing Energy Efficiency in Germany Social Housing Energy Efficiency in Slovenia Social Housing Energy Efficiency in France Social Housing Energy Efficiency in Estonia