215. In this inquiry we have examined the concept
and definition of Decent Homes as well as the way in which the
policy is being implemented and funded. We have made a number
of criticisms and recommendations in terms of both definition,
implementation and funding, but we would like to conclude by reiterating
our support for the Decent Homes target itself.
216. We believe that any civilized society is to
be judged on the standards of housing, education, and healthcare
which it considers an acceptable minimum for all its citizens.
The quality of housing is intricately linked to health and general
well-being. Cold and damp dwellings with poor noise insulation,
poor accessibility for elderly and disabled occupants, unsatisfactory
security arrangements, and squalid communal areas necessarily
affect the health and well-being of its occupants. We cannot expect
that adults and children living in such conditions should think
of themselves as valued citizens who have a stake in society.
217. Consequently, we believe there is an overwhelming
case for having minimum standards specifying what constitutes
a Decent Home, and for having targets aimed at improving housing
standards continuously. It is, however, important that such standards
are pitched at a level which is broadly in line with the average
expectations of householders.
218. There is, of course, no denying the Minister
for Housing, Keith Hill's assertion that financial resources are
limited, and that the Decent Homes policy has to compete for funding
with other worthy policies and objectives, both inside the ODPM
and more broadly across Government Departments. However, the Committee
was alarmed that Keith Hill, as well as representatives of the
Housing Corporation failed to make a strong case in public for
additional Treasury funding for achieving the Decent Homes target,
not least in view of the fact that the 2004 Comprehensive Spending
Review is currently well under way.
219. As we have outlined above, we believe there
is uncertainty about the Government's ability to ensure achievement
of the 2010 target without allocating additional funding to the
task. Furthermore, although some of our recommendations concern
policy formulation and administration alone unlikely to require
major funding allocations, e.g. our recommendation that policies
should be better integrated and coordinated, other recommendations
will require additional Government funding, e.g. the creation
of a 'Decent Homes Plus' target.
220. Therefore, our final, but vital recommendation
is that the treasury commit additional funding to the Decent Homes
policy sufficient to ensure that the current Decent Homes 2010
target be met, and that a subsequent 'Decent Homes Plus' target
can also be met.