In a commendable effort to combat the cost of living crisis, West Yorkshire has witnessed a significant improvement in the living conditions of thousands of residents, thanks to proactive regional measures addressing the affordability and warmth of homes.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority reports that approximately 3,000 rented council and social houses have undergone environmentally friendly upgrades, resulting in reduced heating costs for residents. Initiatives such as the installation of solar panels, heat pumps, double and triple window glazing, as well as loft, wall, and ground floor insulation, have collectively allowed households to save hundreds of pounds annually on energy bills. The latest statistics published this week indicate that an average band D home could potentially save up to £680 per year.

Tracy Brabin, the Mayor of West Yorkshire, who spearheads the regional authority and is dedicated to constructing more affordable and sustainable homes, has successfully secured nearly £40 million. This funding aims to enhance the warmth and affordability of council and social homes, with half of the financial support originating from social housing providers through the West Yorkshire Housing Partnership.

This positive development coincides with regional leaders gathering to approve a new £1.7 million package, slated to install whole-house insulation for 100 Victorian terraces in Armley. The plans align with Mayor Brabin’s commitment to addressing the climate emergency, steering West Yorkshire towards Net Zero by 2038, and championing a “regional mission” to foster a sustainable region in collaboration with councils and social housing providers.

“I’m delighted that through devolution, people across West Yorkshire are saving more money and living in warmer homes during the cost of living crisis.

“We’re committed to deepening our partnership working across West Yorkshire to improve thousands more council and social homes, and build a greener, more vibrant region that is resilient to the climate challenges of the future.

“As we look to deliver a net zero carbon region by 2038, we must ensure that all our homes are fit for the future, which is why we’ll soon be announcing plans to help people improve owned and privately rented homes across the region.”

Data highlights that, through the combined efforts of the Combined Authority, local councils, and social housing providers, Wakefield has witnessed improvements in over 1,400 homes, Bradford in 700 homes, Calderdale in 700 homes, and Leeds, with 500 homes set to receive insulation by March 2025. Kirklees Council has also invested in green measures, benefiting over 400 homes.

To address the estimated 680,000 homes across West Yorkshire requiring green renovations to achieve the Net Zero goal by 2038, plans are underway to establish a regional “One Stop Shop” later this year. This initiative aims to provide all residents and homeowners in West Yorkshire with tailored guidance and support for home improvements, potentially saving hundreds of pounds annually on energy bills.

Furthermore, a £15 million West Yorkshire Housing Partnership scheme will commence work this spring to install solar panels and battery storage on up to 1,500 social homes. The Combined Authority has secured over £800,000 in government funding to offer trusted advice and guidance on fixing draughty homes. Additionally, plans for a low-interest retrofit loan are in the pipeline, further aiding residents in investing for long-term warmth in their homes.

Looking ahead, the West Yorkshire Housing Strategy, set to launch in Summer 2024, will shape the region’s vision for housing until 2040. Building on the Strategic Place Partnership agreement with Homes England, it has the potential to deliver up to 40,000 homes over the coming decades.