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Policy update from CE National – June 30 2023

NAO publishes report on the ‘Condition of school buildings’

Earlier this week (28 June), the National Audit Office published a report on the ‘Condition of school buildings’ which revealed that the Department for Education has identified 572 schools so far where it believes reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), a building material that deteriorates over time and is susceptible to sudden failure, may have been used during construction. RAAC has been confirmed in 65 schools after 196 surveys, of which 24 required emergency action, according to the report. The Department for Education is said to be focusing on 14,900 schools built during the period when the use of RAAC was widespread in construction (between the 1950s and mid-1990s). Of these, 42% have confirmed they have undertaken work to identify RAAC, but potential risks are yet to be identified in the remaining schools.

UK businesses to receive share of over £80 million government funding to tackle carbon emissions

On Wednesday (28 June), the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announced that UK businesses would receive a share of over £80 million government funding to ditch costly fossil fuels for cleaner alternatives like hydrogen and biomass. The announcement is part of a £1bn drive to back state-of-the-art clean technologies to help companies cut their carbon footprint. Among the 29 successful bidders were Kellogg’s, which will use hydrogen to fuel their cereal making process in Manchester, and one of Scotland’s oldest whisky makers, Annadale Distillery, which received £3.6 million government funding to invest in new thermal heating technologies.

Government urges high energy use businesses to claim extra discount on energy bills

On Tuesday (27 June), the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero issued a press release reminding energy-intensive businesses and heat network operators that there is one month left to apply for government support that could see their wholesale energy bills slashed by as much as a fifth. Consumer Energy Minister Amanda Solloway called on eligible businesses to act now to benefit from the support available through the Energy Bills Discount Scheme. Solloway also issued a reminder to heat network operators that they have a legal requirement to apply, to ensure a fair deal for their customers who would otherwise face higher energy bills compared to those covered by the energy price cap.

Labour calls for urgent protections for renters – including ban on no-fault evictions – while ruling out rent controls

On Wednesday (28 June), Labour’s Shadow Levelling Up Secretary Lisa Nandy spoke at the Housing 2023 conference and called for the urgent implementation of protection for renters amid concerns over a potential spike in evictions. Nandy urged the government to immediately implement Labour’s Private Renter’s Charter, which includes banning no-fault evictions, lengthening repossession notice periods and introducing a code of practice for letting agents. Nandy’s intervention has seen Labour come under fire for ditching a pledge to bring in rent controls, even though Labour mayors Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan want powers to use them in their cities.

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