Up to £16 million in grants will be available from 17 April to help public sector organisations decarbonise their buildings, thanks to the latest phase of the Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund. Salix, a non-departmental public body, is the official delivery partner for Phase 5 of the scheme and will be rolling various changes and updates to the application process. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

What is the Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund?

The Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund (LCSF) provides grants for public sector bodies to develop heat decarbonisation plans to prepare for procurement and delivery of heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency works. This includes both investing in upskilling as well as engaging with specialist and expert advice to create more robust heat decarbonisation plans.

Managed by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and delivered by Salix, this phase of the scheme aims to strategically position organisations and better prepare them to align with the UK’s 2050 net zero target.

What’s New in Phase 5?

Phase 5 introduces several updates and improvements based on feedback from previous phases:

Assessment process: Applications will now be assessed in a randomised order rather than on a first-come, first-served basis. Under previous Low Carbon Skills Fund phases, applications were assessed in the order that they were submitted, leading to mistakes being made as applicants rushed to get their application in as early as possible. This change reflects feedback that assessing applications in the order they are submitted does not create a favourable user experience.

Grant value ranges: Funding will be divided into three grant value ranges to distribute resources more equitably across projects of varying scales, ranging from £100,000 to £1,000,000.

  1. 34% of the total Phase 5 Low Carbon Skills Fund funding will be allocated to applications with a value of £100,000 and below.
  2. 38% of the total Phase 5 Low Carbon Skills Fund funding will be allocated to applications with a value between £100,001 and £500,000.
  3. 28% of the total Phase 5 Low Carbon Skills Fund funding will be allocated to applications with a value between £500,001 and £1,000,000.

Application form and scoring framework: A new application form will be introduced, accompanied by a scoring framework to facilitate comprehensive and consistent assessment of applications against scheme criteria.

End-of-life requirement: Applications will see the inclusion of end-of-life heating system requirements, which aims to prioritise later stage projects for buildings in urgent need of heating system replacement.

For feasibility and design stage activities, such as technical site surveys, buildings must have at least one end-of-life heating system to be eligible. The boiler or plant must either be beyond its typical useful life or be older than 10 years. However, organisations can still include buildings with non-end-of-life boilers for strategy stage activities like developing heat decarbonisation strategies and conducting desktop assessments and building audits.

Maximum number of applications: Demand for the skills fund is continuously higher than available funding. Now, each organisation can submit a maximum of one application to ensure broader access to funding opportunities.

Tenancy arrangements: Applicants must either own the building or have a long-term lease arrangement, ensuring commitment to decarbonisation efforts for the duration of the project.

Updated eligible activities: Phase 5 expands the range of eligible activities, offering more flexibility and options to address specific decarbonisation needs. For further guidance, a separate document from Salix for Project Development Guidance is available.

Key dates to remember

  • Guidance published Wednesday 20 March 2024
  • Application portal opens Wednesday 17 April 2024
  • Introductory webinars during March/April 2024
  • Application portal closes Wednesday 1 May 2024
  • Applicants informed of application outcome end of July 2024
  • Projects delivered Monday 31 March 2025

Where to find more information

For comprehensive guidance and assistance regarding Phase 5 of the LCSF, interested organisations can find the full list of resources and FAQs on the Salix Phase 5 Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund page.

If you still have questions on the application process, get in touch for a no-obligations chat with an expert at Sustainable Energy First.