Spiralling energy prices, global supply chain issues and the lingering effects of the pandemic have blasted a hole in a £1.2 million upgrade of Angus Council house heating systems.
And it’s brought a ‘be patient’ plea to tenants whose hopes of a cosy winter with new heating have plummeted like this week’s temperatures.
Housing bosses say a combination of factors beyond the authority’s control have hit the 2021/22 improvement programme.
The spending plan
The council has a total housing stock of more than 7,500 homes.
This year it planned to invest £1.2 million in replacing gas and electric heating systems as part of a rolling programme.
But just £98,000 of that was spent by the end of September.
There are hopes the pace of the programme will pick up.
However, housing chiefs are predicting an underspend of almost £400k at the end of the financial year.
Heating upgrades are just part of a planned £20m-plus Angus housing investment in 2021/22.
It includes £10m of new build and shared equity projects.
Catalogue of issues
Housing manager John Morrow flagged the problems in a monitoring report to Angus communities committee councillors this week.
He said: “The gas heating programme is a concern.
“There’s been a number of issues, not least the fallout from the increase in wholesale fuel prices.”
More than 20 suppliers have folded since the start of the year amid the soaring price of gas.
Mr Morrow added: “This has meant that larger energy companies are reluctant to take on new customers.
“And this is impacting on tenant engagement with the meter installation process, preventing works from being commenced.
“This has in turn delayed the overall gas upgrade programme and resulted in an options appraisal being commissioned to review the viability of the original project.”
“The electrical heating upgrade to sheltered properties is currently delayed because of multiple global supply issues, most especially with radiator availability,” said Mr Morrow.
“However, works are programmed to be completed within the current financial year.”
Labour market problems
A variety of housing upgrade programmes also continue to feel the impact of a labour shortage in the construction industry.
“We are doing our best, and contractors are doing their best,” he said.
“But it’s a challenging labour market at the moment.
“There doesn’t seem to be any sign of it improving any time soon and these are issues being experienced across the country.”
He added: “We are doing our best to keep our tenants informed.
“And we do appreciate their patience.”