Extent of substandard social housing revealed

An answer to a parliamentary question has highlighted problems with social housing
An answer to a parliamentary question has highlighted problems with social housing

By Gabriel Huntley

Almost one in five social housing properties are classed as 'non-decent' accommodation, figures released today show.

The statistics, which emerged in response to a question in parliament, represent a blow to the government's aim for 95 per cent of all social housing to reach a decent standard by 2010.

Standards of social housing were revealed as being poorest in the north east, where 26 per cent of social homes are 'non-decent' compared to 18 per cent across England.

However, the proportion of 'non-decent' housing has fallen by 20 per cent since 2002, when almost 40 per cent of homes failed to meet the 'decent' standard.

Last month, the government cut funding for the decent homes programme, which is targeted at improving the social housing stock, by £150m.

The department of communities and local government defines a decent home as 'warm and weatherproof' with 'reasonably modern facilities.' According to the government, over £40bn has been spent on improvements to social homes since 1997.

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for housing, Sarah Teather, whose parliamentary question obtained the figures, said:

"It is simply unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of families are living in run-down, overcrowded, cold and draughty housing. Gordon Brown should have the guts to say exactly where his axe will fall. Poor housing is a blight on our society and ruins lives."

Earlier this year, the budget included a package to expand social housing, pledging £100m of funding for local authorities wishing to build new, energy-efficient social rented homes.


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