Uprating Properties – A Ray Of Hope For Contractors?
How the Warm Front scheme provides much needed work
In many towns and cities around the UK, there has been a huge increase in the demand for workers to carry out scaffolding jobs, but a large number of these scaffold jobs aren’t on new build sites – in fact, they are based in older streets, often in poorer areas, where the Warm Front scheme has proved to be an incredible success.
The scheme is designed primarily to help people on low incomes to reduce their energy consumption, through providing adequate insulation and heating in, usually, older properties which need uprating. Large swathes of scaffolded terraces can be found all over the country, making this great news for scaffolders, especially in such harsh economic times.
A prime example of this can be found in Stockton-On-Tees, in the North-East of England. Here there’s lots of activity in the older streets, towards the town centre. Large houses, built over 100 years ago are experiencing a rather modern makeover. Standing three storeys high, these Victorian houses have certainly stood the test of time, but they certainly weren’t built for energy efficiency!
An army of scaffolders appeared in Stockton a few months ago, and proceeded to put the structures in place to allow insulation contractors to commence their work. Each house is clad with polystyrene blocks, covering up the old red bricks, and then painted white, to freshen up the street’s appearance. Of course, Warm Front also provides services such as draught proofing and loft insulation too, meaning that these grand old houses are more affordable to heat – crucially important in today’s energy market.
So, what’s ‘Warm Front’ about?
- It’s a government funded scheme to assist home owners and private tenants, who are on a low income, or receive certain benefits to make their home warm and more energy efficient.
- The grants are used to provide services such as: loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, exterior insulation, draught proofing and hot water tank insulation
- The money available is up to £3, 500 per property – a site survey is always carried out to assess the costs involved. If it will be more than the maximum grant, local councils may top-up the allowance, or individuals may pay the balance themselves
- Private landlords must agree to their property being uprated, and also must not increase their rents to reflect any grant funded improvements
This much needed scheme has had some far-reaching effects already, apart from simply cosmetic ones. Thinking in terms of add-on effects, we can see clear additional benefits, such as:
- Urban Regeneration – age old terraces, with crumbling facades, now have a smart fresh appearance, making neighbourhoods look more desirable and welcoming.
- Lowering Energy Bills – some of the houses still have single pane windows and large air-filled areas which are not heated. By externally cladding these homes, people can enjoy the same benefits in these single brick houses, which people with cavity wall insulation have.
- Strengthening Local Economies – with a host of hungry workers descending every day, local cafes and shops receive a real boost, important in times when increasingly people are cutting back on their spending. Even if workers are simply buying a paper and grabbing a snack, this is still all extra cash for small businesses.
Clearly, the whole construction sector can’t rely upon government grants to provide them with work, but, it seems, this is one government scheme which has benefitted both individual residents, local communities and also provided much needed work for many labourers and tradesmen. With this scheme looking set to continue, it seems there is always going to be a need for good scaffolders UK wide – which is great news all-round.