Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Wave 2.1 - the challenges and opportunities

In this September issue of Contractor Corner, we speak to Ben Bright, Senior Consultant, Sustainability at Turner Townsend, the global consultancy serving clients in the real estate, infrastructure and natural resources sectors


Ben sits in Turner and Townsend’s sustainable housing advisory division and is Regional Bid Support Lead for the South West for the Social Housing Retrofit Accelerator, a technical support facility that aims to increase market knowledge of the technical delivery of retrofit and assists social housing providers to bid for SHDF funding.

Ben looks at the key markers for success in the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Wave 2.1 and how contractors can support clients to produce a successful bid and ultimately a successful retrofit contract.

“In 2019, the UK Government announced its Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF). Valued at £3.8 billion, to be spent over a decade, the objective of the funding is to decarbonise social housing stock in line with the nation’s target of Net Zero by 2050. The second wave of funding SHDF 2.1, to be delivered up to June 2025, represents a further £800 million. These are significant numbers which represent big opportunities for contractors who specialise in social housing. But the opportunities do not come without risk.

“The key marker for SHDF bidding success is collaboration from as early as possible to help mitigate any risk. This is especially important when it comes to costing future retrofit projects against the background of current supply chain pressures. But that’s a whole other topic, and I guess that’s the challenge of the retrofit arena – it’s such a broad piece. It is multi-faceted and needs true collaboration from project scoping, through to specification setting, design, pricing and delivery with constant resident engagement supporting throughout.

“Even the initial stock analysis is a tricky starting point, as accurate data on the energy performance of individual properties is not always accessible or precise. This is one area where contractors can help and add value for example, by supporting with retrofit assessments which give a more accurate picture of the current building performance than an EPC assessment and support development of a long term retrofit plan. Doing this at the at the same time as they are carrying out other planned or capital works can support clients with their long-term asset strategies.

Pricing uncertainty is also giving clients cause for concern. Modelled costs are not keeping pace with current changes within material pricing and often do not factor in compliance costs with PAS 2035 or the reality of delivery on site. Clients need support from contracting partners to ensure their scope is well considered and meets their internal budgetary constraints.

“There is also the challenge of a lack of retrofit specialist skill sets and expertise across both social housing providers and contractors. Again, contractors can get ahead by investing in Retrofit Co-ordinators now to be able to support clients and offer best practice advice on whole house, fabric first improvements.

“In conclusion, to maximise the successful funding, bidding and more importantly, the ultimate successful retrofit implementation, it is all about collaboration and client / contractor engagement and transparent conversation from as early in the process as is possible. Many of the solutions I have touched on above require confident, upfront contractor investment. But the long-term opportunities for a return on the investment are huge. Ultimately, my advice is for contractors and clients to collaborate early, have mutual support from the start, act commercially to build the supply chain and skillsets, and together, consistently balance against risk.

Ben will be presenting at our next Contractor Forum meeting in London on the 5th October

If you’re not a member and would like to join the next session as a guest, please email


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