The journey toward Net Zero recently hit a bumpy and circuitous section with the Government seeming to spot an opportunity to score points with certain voters by retracting several previous sustainability objectives. How should boards and members interact with these policy changes?
Blog by Campbell Tickell Director Jon Slade
Housing budgets are under unprecedented pressure. For many years there existed a settled consensus within which development plans held the balance of power over operational budgets. Then Grenfell, then EPC Rating C by 2030, then Net Zero by 2050, then the cost of living crisis. And the balance of power shifts so that development programmes are determined by the money left over after meeting operational needs.
The easiest thing to do is also the worst thing. The national policy changes create opportunities to kick the sustainability can down the road. But that begs the question: Should we only do what we must? Apart from government policy the case for change is no different today than it was two weeks ago. Future generations need us to act now. And this generation of our residents needs us to reduce the cost-in-use of their homes.
Current activity is chiefly concerned with assembling data, developing solutions, running pilot projects and spending Social Housing Decarbonisation Funding. Most Net Zero budgets are far smaller now than they will be in 10 years’ time. So potential savings in the next few years are relatively small. This makes it easier to argue for sticking to existing plans.
Stay on track
Reassuringly, some big organisations including L&Q, Clarion, Places for People and Sovereign have already stated their intention not to change course. Debates in other board rooms and executive teams may not be so straightforward. In scaling back objectives and resources the government were at pains to argue their recognition that the finish line had not changed, only the journey to it.
Perhaps the strongest short-term reason to hold steady is that the next general election is due by January 2025 at the latest with many commentators forecasting Autumn 2024. Between election promises and post-election realities it is near impossible to know what the policy landscape will look like in 18 months’ time.
So, there is a strong case for looking beyond the short-term policy changes and acting on the long-term imperatives. Keep going with your preparatory work and review your position after the next general election. Your current and future residents need you to keep going on this journey.
This article was first published on Unlock Net Zero