Market-based low-carbon retrofit in social housing: Insights from Greater Manchester

Jenni Cauvain, Andrew Karvonen, Saska Petrova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, social housing providers in the UK have become influential actors in realizing the national government’s decarborization agenda. However, when decarbonization is considered in light of austerity measures and the privatization of public housing, a number of contradictions arise. From interviews and a workshop with policymakers and registered providers in the city-region of Greater Manchester, three tensions are highlighted. First, since the 1980s, the housing stock condition has been used as a political pawn in successive reforms to demunicipalize social housing. Second, local authorities continue to harness the collectivities that remain in the social housing sector to realize their decarbonization goals. Third, the retrofit practices of social landlords are only superficially aiming for carbon control; instead, they focus on the social aims that are seen as important to the ethos and business model of the landlord. The article concludes that there are unavoidable conflicts between the interests of different actors whose low-carbon economy is conceived at different spatial scales and with different underlying objectives. As social landlords are foregrounded in subregional low-carbon policy, they are effectively co-opted into market-based retrofit, resulting in unintended consequences for the social housing sector.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Urban Affairs
Early online date26 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • austerity, housing, decarbonisation, Manchester, UK

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Energy


Dive into the research topics of 'Market-based low-carbon retrofit in social housing: Insights from Greater Manchester'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this