The Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government’s review of the Decent Homes Standard continues to progress. The first phase – which will run until September – is considering the case for change to the existing standard. Following a meeting in June, last Friday the NHC submitted written comments to Ministry.
Our previous submission in May explained our members’ view that a comprehensive Decent Homes Standard review should consider updating the list of building components to include new technologies and materials. We also explained that our members find that age is useful for asset management planning purposes but that the standard needs to be flexible enough to avoid replacement occurring solely based on age.
This time the submission was focussed on the modern facilities and services criterion, as well as additional questions on reasonable state of repair. We gave views on ventilation, reiterating members’ concerns that fuel poverty plays a big part in this issue ad that there is empirical evidence of customers not utilising ventilation solutions due to fears of heat loss. This demonstrates the need for greater use of technology to identify and monitor the ‘real’ usage of the home.
We told the review that members make extensive use of asset surveys, finding that they bring huge value to organisations, with stock condition surveys allowing them to collect information relating to the Government’s Decent Home Standard, but that members valued the ability to determine the frequency and scope of these surveys.
This phase of the review also began to look at issues ‘beyond the front door’. NHC members told us that communal areas within dwellings, and facilities on the land around the premises which is owned or managed by the landlord, could fall within the scope of the Standard. However, we stressed the practical issues that might arise if a standard were set for neighbourhood issues over which landlords had limited influence.
Members felt strongly that homes and neighbourhoods should have a basic level of security including a requirement for to reduce fear of crime, avoidance of dead-ends, ‘rat runs’, throughfares, and considerations for sufficient lighting in communal areas and non-adopted highways.
This phase of the review also considered issues around digital connectivity, accessibility and electrical services. The review will now move on to consider the ‘Thermal Comfort’ criterion, which is heavily dated and does not reflect the current government’s net zero commitments.
The NHC sends regular updates to members who have expressed an interest in the Decent Homes Review – providing an opportunity for members to contribute their practical experience of the current standard. To add your name, email Kristina.Dawson@northern-consortium.org.uk
We are particularly grateful to St Leger Homes of Doncaster who consulted their tenants in the process of formulating their own response to the questions on ‘modern facilities and services’. The NHC have also presented on the review to tenants from the Sheffield City Region Together With Tenants Group, and we are happy to make similar presentations to NHC member staff teams or resident groups. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org