The NHC is a core participant in the Sounding Board for Government’s Review of the Decent Homes Standard. The Review is now underway, and the Sounding Board met for the first time in February.
MHCLG are running the Review in two phases – the first phase, running over Spring and Summer, is considering the case for change to the existing criteria. Subject to the outcomes of the first phase, a second phase will then seek to redefine decency.
In January, the NHC launched a survey of members asking for views on the current standard. Many thanks to members from councils, housing associations and ALMOs across the North who completed our survey.
The first meeting of the Sounding Board considered the current statutory minimum standard for housing. In our contributions at the meeting and in writing, the NHC has been keen to make the following points on the statutory minimum:
- That the Decent Homes Standard should maintain a read-across to the private rented sector: while the focus of the Review is the social housing sector, it is important that the aspiration for private rented homes to reach the standard is not abandoned, particularly where the PRS is home to households with vulnerabilities
- The importance of aligning the Standard with other aspects of legislation and regulation: for example, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act; and the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards set by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
- The challenges in using a rating system to set a minimum standard : members responding to our survey felt that the use of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) resulted in a standard which manages to be both technical and subjective, and is therefore particularly difficult for tenants to interpret. It should be noted the HHSRS is itself subject to a separate review process at present, and the outcomes of this review will need to be considered carefully as part of the Decent Homes Review.
The next meeting of the Sounding Board Group, in April, will consider the ‘Reasonable State of Repair’ Criterion, with further meetings planned in June on the Modern Facilities and Services Criterion ; and in August on the Thermal Comfort Criterion.
We still welcome views and comments from NHC members on the Review – please contact Executive Director (Policy and Public Affairs) Brian Robson – firstname.lastname@example.org
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.