FrankandBrown director Andrew Brown looks at the Government’s Decent Homes strategy.
In the past two weeks there has been a flurry of activity about housing; kicked off by criticism of Decent Homes and overall Government performance on housing. Labour was given a ticking off for missing its targets and there was a rush to put the boot in.
I think that’s harsh. Whilst Labour is a bit of a sitting duck its overall housing performance has been good and Decent Homes especially is something the Government and indeed, construction can be proud of.
Let’s look at some statistics (and these are taken from 24housing) and comment from people who might know more than the average pundit.
Decent Homes has seen an investment of £40billion into rejuvenating 95% of around two million council/social homes in a very poor state of repair. These were homes inherited from the Conservative Government: Decent Homes has significantly improved the living standards for many people in these flats and houses.
As important, the construction industry delivered much of the improvement and refurbishment work in partnership not just with its Housing Association and Council clients, but also with the communities affected.
There are countless examples where projects involved local labour, helped set up apprentice schemes and engaged with community needs regarding crime, youth issues and unemployment.
It is true that the Government missed its target, but it was always a big hurdle and to fall short should not mean that the programme itself is a failure. Since 1997 Labour has put housing on the political agenda; now everyone is playing the game (neatly summarised by Property News Hound). Labour might not have done everything the way everyone wants, but do you think the Conservatives have all the answers?
The industry needs to lobby hard to make sure Decent Homes and reforms like it do not fall by the way side. Grant Shapps has ideas, but are they coordinated? For example, when housing really picks up how sustainable will the designs and construction process be? And will we see the like of Decent Homes ever again?