Fuel poverty will be tackled by East Ayrshire Council with the announcement that a new five year housing investment plan will make homes warmer and more energy efficient for tenants.
Housing stock in the area is set to meet the national Scottish Housing Quality Standard by the end of March 2015 however the Council has taken the decision to spend more than £62m over the next five years improving its existing housing stock, over and above its investment plans for new council housing.
To make sure that the housing quality standard is maintained, the programme will continue to invest in modern facilities, with almost £15m being allocated to replacement kitchens and bathrooms.
Energy efficiency will feature prominently in the programme, with a projected spend of £21.6m over the period on external wall insulation and render works. Last year, taking advantage of available grant funding, 411 timber framed homes, of which 254 were council properties and 157 were privately owned, benefitted from external wall insulation and a new render finish, following on from the work carried out to eight four storey blocks of flats in Kilmarnock.
As well as improving the thermal efficiency, the smart render finish really lifts the appearance of the houses. With additional resources being directed to this area of work, 640 council houses will benefit in the coming year, with a further 500 each year thereafter.
The ongoing replacement of windows, doors and screens by the Council has led to a decrease in the number of repairs requested and has also improved the energy efficiency of homes. The replacement programme will see £6.65m being invested over the next five years. In the next year alone, 600 doors and 400 windows will be replaced.
£12.5m will be invested over the five year period of the plan on modern, reliable and fuel efficient heating systems, which equates to 850 systems being replaced each year.
Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of the Council said: “I am delighted that the extensive investment we have made in the housing stock over many years has resulted in achieving the quality standard across our stock. However, we are determined not to just maintain standards and improve the housing stock but make our houses as energy efficient as possible, targeting our investment in those areas with the greatest impact. The improvement plan has made provision for buying back some former council properties allowing us to deliver more improvements in more blocks.”
Councillor Alan Brown, Spokesperson for Strategic Planning, Management and Resources added: “This plan, along with our house building programme, demonstrates our ongoing ambition and commitment to upgrading and refreshing our housing stock, regenerating our estates and improving the lives of our tenants.
“We don’t just wait to make our homes look better, but any investment will tackle fuel poverty and our tenants will benefit directly in their pockets with lower energy bills.”