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Date published: 06 March 2024

On National Insurance cuts, Nicholas said: “The Chancellor’s confirmed cut to National Insurance rates will feature in the post-Spring Budget headlines, however for a large number of our customers across the country, this is another headline that will have little positive impact on their overall household income.

“The cost-of-living crisis and high inflation continues to be more deeply felt by the UK’s poorest households, so the Government needs to ensure that any changes they make are positively affecting customers of all income levels, particularly those currently hardest hit.

“At Stonewater, we’re committed to supporting all our customers who face financial hardship, whether through our charity foundation, Longleigh, or through financial advice from specialist organisations we partner with.”

On the need for greater social housing decarbonisation funding, Nicholas said: “Stonewater continues to be committed to reducing carbon emissions and improving the energy efficiency of our homes. However, with over 30,000 of our homes being at least a decade old, we, and other providers in the sector, face an increasingly difficult challenge to playing our part in hitting the government’s 2050 net zero-carbon target.

“The Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund is supporting housing providers on this journey, but much more will be needed to decarbonise all our homes. Without an acceleration of the Fund, with a national retrofit plan that considers both nationwide and localised support, and the strengthening of the renewable technology workforce, many of our customers will be living in expensive to heat homes with high energy bills for years to come.

“We recently launched the Greenoak Centre of Excellence, which aims to identify the most effective routes for the housing sector to achieve net zero-carbon. We would urge government representatives, as well as other housing providers, to commit to engaging with the initiative so we can collectively discover and determine the best practice for decarbonisation for the sector, our customers and the planet.

“The need for us to make our stock more energy efficient in order to benefit our customers continues to weigh heavily on us."

On energy support, Nicholas said: “Despite the recent Ofgem announcement of the reduction of the energy price cap coming into effect from April 2024, many of our customers will still not see the benefit. Customers who receive their energy supply through a communal system continue to be exposed to higher costs as their supplies are deemed as commercial use.

“We’d like to see a change to the system to help support our affected customers, especially those in retirement or supported living schemes that can least afford it, so they too can begin to see the benefit of a reduction in energy prices and be better protected from the cost-of-living challenges they face.”