New ventilation systems for social homes in West Midlands

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has awarded £343,000 to housing association Citizen to improve homes in Solihull and Walsall.

The money has been awarded through the Social Housing Quality Fund and will be used to tackle damp, mould and condensation, through the installation of new ventilation systems in kitchens and bathrooms and the installation of environmental monitoring equipment so that it is able to collect information on the thermal efficiency of homes.

In total £178,000 will be spent on improvements to 84 homes in Solihull and £165,000 will be spent on 37 homes in Walsall,  17 of which will also have new heating systems installed.

The grant follows £2.1m of funding awarded to the housing association in November last year by the WMCA to improve 1,045 homes in Coventry.

Cllr Ian Courts, the WMCA’s portfolio holder for housing and land and Leader of Solihull Council, said:

This new money from the WMCA for homes in Solihull and Walsall comes hard on the heels of the £2.1 million we made available to Citizen last year to tackle the issue of damp and mould in their Coventry properties.

It’s great to see this latest funding being used to improve many more homes across the West Midlands. Decent housing is vital for people’s quality of life, so I look forward to seeing how this investment can make a positive difference for Citizen’s tenants while also providing data about the average internal temperature, humidity and heat loss rate of the typical home, invaluable information for supporting work to make our housing stock warmer and more energy efficient.

Chief operating officer at Citizen, Mads Nelson, added:

We are thrilled to have been awarded further money from the WMCA to help improve our customers homes in Solihull and Walsall. Along with our previous grant for Coventry, we will be improving 1,166 homes across the West Midlands.

Our business strategy is focused on making sure our homes are safe, sustainable and that we are investing in homes to improve their quality. This additional money means that we can deliver these services to homes ahead of our planned time.

Thank you to the team for their hard work and we hope our customers receiving the works see the benefit of them.

Citizen is working with Switchee to install the smart devices that will measure the internal conditions of the homes where they are installed. Switchee devices measure the average internal temperature, humidity and heat loss rate.

The Switchee dashboard will also flag properties that are consistently below the Public Health England recommended temperature of 18 degrees Celsius and therefore at a higher risk of damp and mould.

Switchee CEO, Tom Robins, said:

We are proud to be working in partnership with Citizen to ensure that real, tangible results are achieved through the use of our data. Working together, we can install Switchee smart devices into residents’ homes and complete work to improve their ventilation. Our devices not only help landlords to identify the homes most affected by fuel poverty and at a higher risk of damp and mould, but they also improve the energy efficiency of the home. This could potentially lower the residents’ heating bills by up to 17 percent.

Fuel poverty is intimately linked to poor health and evidence strongly suggests that living in cold homes and poor housing can have a direct and detrimental effect on health. Therefore, we are happy to be part of the next stage in this challenge with Citizen, to fight against fuel poverty, so together we can tackle the knock-on effects it has to the residents living in them.