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UK Government will miss decent homes target by eight years

The last homes to be improved under the Government’s Decent Homes Programme will not be completed until 2018, eight years after the original 2010 target.
A report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has found that ministers have only a slight grasp the cost of the work or the number of homes involved.

The Decent Homes Programme has improved more than 1.1 million properties since 2001, with 810,000 new kitchens, 610,000 new bathrooms and 1.14 million central heating systems installed. However, there are around 305,000 homes which will miss the 2010 target, with the last work not due for completion until 2018/19.

And the report said ministers’ original estimate of £19 billion for the programme was “not fit for purpose”.

Local authorities and registered social landlords will have spent £37 billion by the end of 2010/11 on bringing homes up to the required standards.

The report urged DCLG to improve its financial control over the programme and to do more to ensure that landlords can complete outstanding work and that improved properties do not fall back into disrepair.

Housing minister John Healey said: “Rigorous steps, such as thoroughly assessing every bid, have been taken to ensure greater value for money from landlords, but I am working with the HCA (Homes and Communities Agency) to look at what more we can do.

“For the longer term I intend to dismantle the current system of council housing finance to ensure more money is available for councils to maintain their housing stock at a decent level for the future.”

Conservative housing spokesman Grant Shapps said: “This is yet more evidence that the Government’s housing policy is in chaos. They simply cannot continue to make meaningless announcements – they have utterly failed to construct the homes this country needs.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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