Click here to skip to content

Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2010): Social housing - UK

Beyond Decent Homes

Communities and Local Government Committee

London: TSO, 2010 (House of Commons papers, session 2009/10; HC 60)

The Government has pursued an ambitious goal over the ten years of the decent homes policy: 'a decent home for all'. To achieve this goal, it drew up a detailed standard of decency, articulated a clear vision, laid down challenging targets and set up a range of options for the implementation of the policy. This is not to say that the policy has been an unqualified success; and in particular Ministers do not seem to have given a great deal of thought to what should happen after the policy reaches its target date in 2010. The economic climate has had a dramatic effect on the resources available for public spending. The growing consensus on climate change lends renewed urgency to efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from housing; and the tension between building new homes and maintaining existing ones continues to exercise decision-makers. A new regulator of social housing, the Tenant Services Authority, has been established and a new regulatory framework for social housing is expected imminently. The report examines the successes and challenges of the decent homes programme over the ten years of its existence. It finds that, while the social sector programme has received a huge injection of political will and financial resource, the private sector programme has been quietly downgraded and inadequately funded. It also finds that, although great progress has been made in the social sector, a significant backlog of works remains and the incentive structure of the programme may have led landlords to conceal the extent of the works required after 2010. Furthermore, while the use of arm's-length management organisations to manage council housing has led to improved standards and better planning, many councils were unable to follow the ALMO model or to transfer stock. The report concludes that the Government is to be applauded for its achievements in this area, but that detailed thought should now urgently be given to what succeeds the decent homes standard and the legacy of the programme of work it entailed.

The Decent Homes programme

Committee of Public Accounts

London: TSO, 2010 (House of Commons papers, session 2009/10; HC 350)

The report examines the extent to which the Department for Communities and Local Government (the Department) and the Homes and Communities Agency are effective in overseeing the Decent Homes Programme. It welcomes the improvements made and the substantial progress towards the original target of all social housing being of a decent standard by December 2010. However, despite this progress, the target will not be met. The report says that by the Department's own estimates, 305,000 homes will still be non-decent at that date and the last of these will not be decent until 2018-19. Before asking local authorities and Registered Social Landlords to bring their social housing stock up to a reasonable standard, the Department should have prepared a proper estimate of how much it would cost them. According to the best information available to the Department, it will have cost local authorities and Registered Social Landlords approximately 37 billion by 2010-11. The Department has also not done enough to identify and share good practice with social landlords. The Department lacks some basic management information on the Programme, such as reliable statistics on the number of homes made decent. The Department needs to address its information deficiencies in order to evaluate properly the impact of the Programme. The Department also needs to improve its evaluation of the private sector element of the Programme. It does not know how much local authorities have spent on this element, and it will need to review the performance of individual authorities if good practice is to be identified and disseminated.

The only way is up

D. Montague

Roof, May/June 2010, p. 31-33

Shared ownership continues to build asset wealth for people on moderate incomes, relieves pressure on housing waiting lists by freeing up social tenancies and taking people off the list, provides homes for key workers at affordable prices, and helps create mixed and balanced communities. It also offers the government excellent value for money, since in 2008/09 each shared ownership property cost the public purse less than 27,000 compared to an average 57,300 in grant for a social rented home. It will therefore continue to play a major role in affordable housing provision after the 2010 General Election.

A stake in the future

D. Maclennan

Roof, May/June 2010, p. 36-37

The author sets out his vision for the future development of UK housing policy and for avoiding past mistakes. He argues that: 1) more competition among multiple providers should be encouraged at the local level, to give poorer households more choice; 2) planning should be actively used as an instrument to shape better housing size and density options that will meet the need to reduce energy consumption and increase accessibility; and 3) older people should accept that they will need to use their housing assets to cover long-term care costs and move from ownership to renting to reduce the tax burden on the working population.

Search Welfare Reform on the Web