|In 2000, the Government set itself a Public Service Agreement (PSA) target of bringing all social housing up to the Decent Homes standard by 2010. In 2002, this target was broadened to encompass also 70% of dwellings in the private housing sector, occupied by vulnerable households. The Committee welcomes and supports this target.
The evidence received in the course of this inquiry has, however, led us to conclude that the target is in danger of not being met, and that the Government needs to address a number of problems of policy formulation and implementation.
- We believe that the Decent Homes standard is set at too basic a level, and that by 2010 it will be seriously out of step with reasonable tenant expectations. As a consequence, we recommend that the Government set a more aspirational 'Decent Homes Plus' standard to be achieved at a later date.
- We believe that the target of achieving Decent Homes in the social housing sector is being used as a Trojan Horse by the Government in a dogmatic quest to minimise the proportion of housing stock managed by Local Authorities. The Government must put its money where its mouth is and leave it up to tenants to decide who should own and manage their homes. The Government should provide a level playing field in terms of funding so that tenants and Local Authorities have real choices.
- In the private sector, the limitation of the Decent Homes target to just 70% of dwellings occupied by vulnerable households makes little sense. The Government needs to give much higher priority to the achievement of the Decent Homes standard across the private sector. This should be done partly through funding incentives and partly through statutory means.
It is clear that more funding is needed in order to achieve not only the current Decent Homes target, but also any expansion of the target as currently conceived. We therefore urge both the ODPM and the Treasury to allocate the necessary additional funding in order to ensure that this vital target will be met by 2010, and that the expanded 'Decent Homes Plus' target, recommended in this report, can be achieved.