The NHC is a core participant in the Sounding Board for the Government’s review of the Decent Homes Standard. We have surveyed members on their views and are continuing to consult members through our regional networks. Here’s our latest update on the Review.
As you may be aware, the Review is in two parts – the first phase (which we’re in now) is considering the case for change to the current Decent Homes Standard (DHS). Subject to the outcome of this first part, there may then be a second phase looking at redefining decency, which would run from Autumn 2021 until Summer 2022. The Sounding Board has now met twice and reviewed two of the four criteria in the current standard.
Amending Criterion A- the statutory minimum standard
Our February update covered the first meeting of the Sounding Board, which looked at the Statutory Minimum standard. At the April meeting of the Sounding Board, MHCLG officials updated the group on their findings around DHS Criterion (A) – the statutory minimum standard. Officials found clear support within the Sounding Board for amending Criterion A and presented two emerging options for change.
Criterion (B) – reasonable state of repair
The second item of business at April’s meeting was to consider the case for change to the ‘reasonable state of repair’ criterion. The Sounding Board were asked a range of questions about the current list of building components used to define poor repair, and the way that the current standard considers the age of these components in combination.
The NHC made the point that the current list of components does not reflect modern or future expectations e.g. referring to gas boilers, rather than the range of heating systems we are likely to be installing in future. We also said that we thought the list of ‘key’ components, while a sensible list for asset management purposes, made less sense to tenants given that components of importance to them, like kitchens and bathrooms, are excluded from the list of ‘key’ components. There was also discussion on the use of ‘age’ as a consideration when considering issues around decency and disrepair. While age does not equate automatically to disrepair, it is objective and measurable.
Feedback gathered in our original survey has been very useful so far. The NHC has until mid-May to submit further written comments to MHCLG on Criterion B. If you have any further thoughts, please let us have them by Friday 7th May.
Key questions the Ministry are asking for comment on in relation to Criterion (B) are:
1. Building components
|Question 1a||Is the list of building components complete, or are their omissions or inconsistencies, taking account of new technologies and materials and present-day expectations on quality and decency?|
|Question 1b||Is it useful to differentiate between ‘key’ and ‘other’ building components? Please explain your answer|
|Question 1c||Does clustering of two or more non-serious issues rendering a home non-decent remain a useful and valid approach?|
2. Aged elements
|Question 2a||Is it right that ‘age’ is a consideration when considering issue around decency and disrepair? Please explain your answer|
|Question 2b||Is it valid and useful for the standard to provide and set out component life-times? If so, why?|
|Question 2c||Taking into account advances in new technology, do you think the component lifetimes need refreshing or updating?|
The Sounding Board next meets in June, when we’ll be discussing current criterion (C) – Modern facilities and services. In advance of that meeting, the NHC are particularly interested in hearing from members who have enhanced Decent Homes Standards in their own stock, particularly where these have been informed by evidence of tenant expectations.
We hope this update is useful. The NHC continue to consult members through our regional networks. Members can also register with MHCLG to receive papers and updates related to the Review. Details of how to do this can be found on the MHCLG website.
NHC contact: Brian Robson, Executive Director (Policy & Public Affairs) – email@example.com