Sadiq Khan has called on the government to provide “emergency investment” in more than 340,000 social rent homes in London which City Hall says are falling short of the national Decent Homes Standard, fail to meet national energy efficiency requirements, or both.
Drawing on the government’s English Housing Survey findings, City Hall calculates that 43% of the capital’s social rent dwellings – which make up about one fifth of London’s total – are in need of funds to bring them up to scratch, with conditions in some of those that don’t meet the Decent Home Standard posing serious health threats due to damp, mould, cold or infestation.
A breakdown of the total number of homes concerned provided to On London by City Hall says that well over 59,000 homes are both “non-decent” and not energy efficient, nearly 56,000 are energy efficient but fall below the “decent” standard, and 228,000 are judged decent but not energy efficient.
Commenting on the analysis, Mayor Khan drew attention to the death from a respiratory condition of two year-old Awaab Ishak who lived in a housing association flat in Rochdale, saying the case demonstrated “the real life consequences of unacceptably sub-standard housing”.
He asked the government to “take responsibility” for addressing the problem with “proper investment” and by introducing “a system that ensures people’s homes are proactively inspected so that problems are spotted before they become serious or even, as we’ve seen, deadly”.
The Decent Homes Standard was introduced in the year 2000 by the Labour national government led by Tony Blair and set down minimum requirements for quality, repair, facilities and “thermal comfort”. It was updated in 2006 to accommodate provisions of the Housing Act 2004, which brought in a new health and safety rating system.
The current government sets minimum energy performance standards for domestic landlords and wants housing association properties to attain a Band C rating by 2030. The City Hall figures include homes that have yet to be improved to that level.
The Mayor wants reforms introduced to hasten improvements and ensure the 2030 target is met, with money to enhance the quality and energy efficiency of social housing and greater clarity about the rules that must be followed. City Hall says the cost of bringing all of London’s social housing up to Decent Homes and energy efficiency standards would be £4 billion.
The most recent Housing in London report, the evidence base for the Mayor’s statutory London Housing Strategy, published in October, says that in April 2021 figures provided by the capital’s councils and housing associations produced a combined total of 44,270 rented dwellings that fell below the Decent Home Standard, of which the vast majority – 41,050 – were council homes.
City Hall says the difference between that figure and the much larger one highlighted today is because the English Housing Survey data is different, derived from a combination interviews with randomly sampled householders and a physical inspection of a sub sample of them.
The overall figure and the different amounts of “non-decent” homes in the data provided by councils and housing associations in London has been broadly unchanged since 2016, when Decent Homes Funding was curtailed.
The Housing in London 2022 report shows a strong downward trend in the number of council-owned social rented homes in London failing to meet the decent home standard from near the start of the century – from over 200,000 to under 50,000 – before levelling off.
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