UK Government

Communities and Local Government: Minister launches full assessment of the Decent Homes Programme

Press Release   •   Dec 09, 2009 11:36 GMT

Housing Minister John Healey today announced a full scale assessment of the government’s drive to improve England’s social housing stock. He called the Decent Homes programme launched in 2001 a "massive national refurbishment of unprecedented scale" with over £33 billion invested already to make sure council and housing association tenants live in homes with decent heating, wiring, windows, doors insulation, kitchen and bathrooms. But he said that the poorest performing councils appeared to be going backwards and he wanted to make they were not letting their tenants down and are getting the benefits of the lessons learned by the best.

Mr Healey was particularly concerned that 27 local authorities had actually seen an increase in their non decent stock, 13 still had over half their stock non decent and 10 still had a third of their housing stock non decent.

Thanks to over £33bn of investment the programme has already made sure that 86 per cent of council or housing association properties are decent, improving the lives of millions of tenants. By 2010 over £40bn will have been invested with 92 per cent of homes decent, and the government remains committed to fully funding and completing the programme so that all homes were made decent.

Mr Healey said that this assessment would enable landlords to share best practice, providing a helping hand to those councils struggling to make sure all their tenants lived in a decent home, and ensuring that the standards achieved in recent years are maintained in the future.

As well as providing improved, more energy efficient social homes the Decent Homes programme has also encouraged better ways of working and managing homes, giving tenants more say and created employment opportunities across the country.

Housing Minister John Healey said;

"In 1997 we inherited over two million homes in disrepair and we have taken great strides in making sure tenants have a decent home. Unprecedented government investment and help has meant that next year a total of 92 per cent of our public homes will be at a decent level, but I want to go further. This government remains committed to making sure that all public homes are made decent.

"I am concerned some of the poorest performing local authorities are going backwards and I want to make sure they are not letting their tenants down and are getting the benefits of lessons learned in their area. This assessment will highlight all we've achieved as well as all we’ve learned along the way."

Social landlords are being invited to submit evidence about the successes of their decent homes programmes and any lessons they have learnt along the way.  Researchers will be appointed to undertake additional field work and write the report.

Notes to editors

1) In 2000 the Government committed itself to bringing all social housing up to a decent standard by 2010.  The decent homes programme has been running since 2001. Between 2001 and 2008, we have put 700,000 new kitchens, 525,000 new bathrooms and over 1 million new central heating systems into council homes. We have re-wired 740,000 council homes to ensure that they meet fire and safety requirements.The Decent Homes standard has four criteria which are:

i) It meets the current statutory minimum standard for housing (i.e. the dwelling should be free of category 1 hazards under the HHSRS);
ii) It is in a reasonable state of repair;
iii) It has reasonably modern facilities and services;
iv) It provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort.

2) In the local authority sector landlords report that between 2000/01 and 2007/08 :

  • over 1 million council houses have had new (doubled glazed) windows, at a cost of over £2.5 billion,

  • over 1 million have had new central heating at a cost of over £2.7 billion and

  • over 820,000 have had improvements to their insulation at cost of almost £375 million.

3) It was set as a threshold so that any home below the standard would be improved. It was not set as a standard to which homes were improved. As constructed the standard allows all landlords to determine, in consultation with their tenants, what works need to be completed, and in what order, to ensure the Standard is met.

4) In December 2010, the programme formally comes to an end. Although a small number of LAs will complete their programmes later.

5) We still expect around 92% of homes to be made decent by 2010, which, considering the position from which many landlords started is an impressive achievement. But, we need to do more to understand the successes of the programme and provide a platform for LAs and their stakeholders to publicise their achievements over the last 8 years. Tenants and residents are also very keen to demonstrate how the programme has both improved their homes but also the opportunities that have also arisen around tenant engagement and empowerment

6) Social landlords are being invited to submit evidence on:

  • How their local standard reflects or exceeds the decent homes standard and where they chose to reprovide homes rather than improve.
  • How they have ensured that their programme offers value for money
  • Details of any "bolt-on" schemes to their investment programme, e.g. job creation/apprenticeships, community programmes
  • Any local issues or lessons learnt

7) Please note each submission should:

  • be no more than 3,000 words in length;
  • begin with a short summary in bullet point form;
  • have numbered paragraphs;
  • be in Word format (no later than 2003) with as little use of colour or logos as possible; and
  • be accompanied by a covering letter containing the name and contact details of the individual or organisation submitting evidence.

8) Pease submit your evidence by email to marked "Decent Homes Evaluation Evidence" by 8 January 2010.

9) John Healey announced his intention to commission an evaluation of the Decent homes Programme during his appearance at the CLG Select Committee Inquiry into "Beyond Decent Homes: decent housing standards post 2010". The Committee's inquiry is considering what steps the Government needs to take to ensure that decent housing standards are met and sustained after 2010. (more information is available at:


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