The Government has announced this morning (2 August), that the latest PSDS funding will be made available to enable organisations to invest in low-carbon solutions for public sector buildings like schools, hospitals and town halls.
Public sector organisations, such as local authorities, will be able to apply for a share of £625m allocation from September. The Government expects funding to be spent on solutions including heat pumps, double glazing and insulation to help lower energy costs through improved efficiency.
Public sector bodies and taxpayers are expected to save an average of £650m per year on energy bills over the next 15 years through the scheme. Already, more than 730 grants have been awarded across Phase 1 of the PSDS, which is helping to support around 30,000 green jobs.
Business and Energy Minister Lord Callanan said: “We are already delivering upgrades to hundreds of public buildings across England, making them cheaper to run and saving taxpayers millions of pounds each year.
“By helping even more public sector bodies ditch costly fossil fuels, we are taking an important step towards a more sustainable future while driving economic growth across the country and continuing to support tens of thousands of jobs.”
The scheme forms part of the Chancellor’s ‘Plan for Jobs 2020’ commitment to support the UK’s economic recovery and will reduce non-traded carbon emissions from the public sector by up to 0.1 MtCO2e/year and up to 0.5 MtCO2e over the next two Carbon Budgets. According to BEIS, this is equivalent to taking nearly 45,000 cars off the road.
The latest funding round is part of the £2.5bn set aside for government spending on upgrading public sector buildings between 2020 and 2025. The PSDS will help meet a goal of reducing emissions from public sector buildings by 75%, compared to 2017 levels, by 2037.
Those trying to gain access to funding from the PSDS have expressed annoyance at the amount of red tape that they needed to navigate, while also lamenting the lack of clarity on when funding windows will open and close. Some sustainability professionals operating within the sector claimed they didn’t have enough time or relevant information to submit a grant request. Indeed, smaller entities in the public sector may be put off by the time and expertise required to submit for funding.
The Net Zero Estate Playbook, has been published by the Cabinet Office to provide details on how to access the PSDS. It states that a fully developed “Green Book” for compliance should be included in the submission, but written by someone with Better Business Cases Practitioner qualifications.
Earlier this year, the National Audit Office (NAO) criticised the Government’s approach to accounting and reporting on public sector greenhouse gas emissions, citing multiple frameworks and a lack of ownership as reasons that create confusion for professionals in the sector.
The new NAO report finds that while central government departments are reporting decent progress on decarbonisation a “patchy” and “inconsistent” approach to reporting and accounting is creating confusion in the sector.
Beyond net-zero in the public sector
The public sector represents a critical piece of the UK’s net-zero puzzle. From local government to hospitals, schools and social housing providers – a significant amount of investment and work is required to cut emissions and embrace clean technologies. But beyond simply ‘reducing’, public sector organisations also have a key role to play in enhancing the environmental and social sustainability of the communities they serve.
This report aims to highlight the optimism in the sector in not only playing a key role in reaching net-zero, but also contributing to a “net-positive” approach to society, the economy and the planet.
Read the report here.
August 2, 2022