Local strategies to implement national energy efficiency schemes in Newcastle

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Icons use case study main actors

Main actors

Local Government, City Government, National Government, Private Sector, Public Utility

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Project area

Neighborhood or district

Icons use case study duration


Ongoing since 2013/08

Through building a partnership between the public and private sectors, the city of Newcastle has improved the energy efficiency of its housing stock, decreased fuel poverty and created jobs and training opportunities for vulnerable young people.

In the city of Newcastle, 19% of all households are living in fuel poverty due to energy inefficient buildings that have negative impact on both public health and the environment. 

The Warm up North (WUN) programme was created to make the most of two national funding programmes the Green Deal and ECO which focus on improving energy efficiency in buildings. WUN is delivered through a public-private partnership agreement with the delivery partner British Gas. The programme includes diverse energy efficiency measures such as the installation of new boilers and solar panels.

WUN links the interventions to local employment opportunities for young people. The contract agreed that the delivery partner (British Gas) would create a scheme that enables people from disadvantaged backgrounds access to the jobs that arise as the result of the programme. Newcastle also contractually ensured that the supply chain of their energy efficiency programme, set up via public private partnership, remain local.

Since the beginning of the programme, the city of Newcastle has registered a reduction of 6,142 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum.

Originally published by EUROCITIES, the network of 130 European cities - PDF: http://nws.eurocities.eu/MediaShell/media/353-green-web_final.pdf

Sustainable Development Goals

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Newcastle, United Kingdom

Size and population development
480.400 (city area), 829.300 (metropolitan area)

Main functions
seventh most populous conurbation in the United Kingdom

Administrative structure
City and metropolitan borough

Newcastle has a large volume of houses built before 1975, which are considered among Europe’s most energy inefficient buildings. From 2004-2012 energy prices in the UK went up by an average of 150%. In addition, Newcastle has higher levels of unemployment compared to the UK national average.

As a result 19% of all households in Newcastle are living in fuel poverty. These energy inefficient buildings have a negative impact on both public health and the environment. Deaths in winter increase as residents who live in fuel poverty struggle to heat their homes. Also 33% of carbon emissions in Newcastle come from residential buildings.

Newcastle created the Warm up North (WUN) programme to make the most of two national funding programmes the Green Deal and ECO which focus on improving energy efficiency in buildings. WUN is a partnership between nine North East Local Authorities.  This created a commercially attractive market of two million residents, which evoked the interest of much larger companies - ones that could afford to invest in the marketing and infrastructure required to deliver one-stop-shop services. WUN is delivered through a public-private partnership agreement with the delivery partner British Gas, who is responsible for:

  • comprehensive energy efficiency retrofitting of houses;
  • installation of new boilers;
  • installation of solar panels and compatible thermal heating.

The city council ensured when drawing up the contract with the delivery partner that the programme would create local employment and facilitate access to jobs for vulnerable groups. The contract agreed that the delivery partner would:

  • focus the supply chain on local companies;
  • create a scheme that enable people from disadvantaged backgrounds access to the jobs that arise as the result of the programme.

WUN targets young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs). Its delivery partner, British Gas, offers a scheme called ‘Transform’ which provides 20 shortlisted candidates with a week’s course in sustainability skills from the Business and Technology Education Council. Upon completion of the course, participants are guaranteed an interview which often leads to employment.

To date Warm up North (WUN) has achieved significant improvements in terms of energy efficiency and fuel poverty:

  • reduction of 6,142 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum;
  • 3,885 energy efficiency installations on 3,136 households in the North East of England;
  • 1,060 households received new boilers.

WUN also has an impact in terms of employment and social inclusion:

  • 30 jobs created by British Gas;
  • 90 jobs created in 23 SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) in the WUN supply chain;
  • 2,900 hours of training provided to these employees;
  • 17 NEETs (young people not in employment, education or training) gained formal qualifications.

Changes in national government policy during the early stages of the Green Deal and ECO programmes led to uncertainty in the market and slow uptake by households. This meant that the anticipated volume of work in Warm up North (WUN) did not materialise. On top of this, companies operating outside the scheme charged homeowners for surveys that were never carried out. This generated public mistrust in the scheme.

For WUN these challenges meant it had to adapt its marketing and community engagement strategies, by using public stands and social media. British Gas domestic boiler service engineers were also trained to advertise the scheme when carrying out repairs.

In Green Jobs for social inclusion (see references), EUROCITIES identifies three main factors that contribute to the success of these city initiatives to create green jobs for social inclusion at the local level.

They are:

1. Combining demand and supply side interventions:  an intervention does not solely focus on developing people’s competences, skills and motivation (supply side intervention) but also aims to create a tangible route into the labour market (demand side intervention).

On the demand side, the programme's objective is to provide a ‘protected’ working environment with the view of supporting people to gain real work experience to enable them to compete in the mainstream labour market.

These demand side interventions are then complemented by well-matched activation and training measures (supply side interventions) helping people to gain specific skills and improve their chances of accessing the labour market.

2. Linking the interventions to local employment opportunities

The second success factor is the strong link between the programmes and local employment opportunities. Cities as the level of government closest to the people have an in-depth knowledge of their local labour markets. They can design programmes in line with local economic demand and prepare people for jobs that are available locally. The effectiveness of the demand and supply interventions is made stronger when they are grounded in local businesses and job market needs.

3. Tailoring activation measures to the specific needs of people

The third success factor of the programmes is linking the activation measures to the specific needs of the target groups.

For local authorities, programmes that combine greening and social inclusion bring added value, particularly during periods of budgetary constraint and growing demand for services. Integrated programmes that address several objectives with one investment bring efficiency to local interventions. Given the longer term perspective of the sector, linking job seekers to local jobs in the green economy should continue to bring results as the sector is set to grow.

More information on the success factors: http://nws.eurocities.eu/MediaShell/media/green_jobs_for_social_inclusion_intro_FINAL.pdf

"Local strategies to implement national energy efficiency schemes", in Green Jobs for social inclusion, EUROCITIES, June 2015, 18-21.

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Camille Toggenburger
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Camille Toggenburger

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