The last Administration failed to meet its Decent Homes target. It pledged in 2000 that: “We... are committed to ensuring that all social housing is of a decent standard within 10 years” (DETR, Quality and Choice: A Decent Home for All: The Housing Green Paper, April 2000, p.11). But 16 per cent of local authority homes were not decent by 2010.
That last Government also cut the Decent Homes programme by £150 million in July 2009, cannibalising the housing programme to pay for other policies. I also observe the last Prime Minister planned to cut back housing investment, remarking before the general election: “Housing is essentially a private sector activity. Let's be honest about this... I don't see a need for us to continue with such a big renovation programme” (BBC Newsnight, 30 April 2010).
However, the Coalition Government is investing £2.3 billion from 2011 to 2016 to improve the quality of existing social housing through the Decent Homes programme and large-scale voluntary transfer gap funding The funding is for clearing the backlog, and therefore is less than under the last Administration – as by intention, there should be an increasingly smaller number of homes to pay to refurbish.
The table below shows spending since 2005.
The number of non-decent local authority dwellings across England has fallen from 292,000 in 1 April 2010 to 146,000 in April 2014, with a forecast of a further fall to 113,000 by April 2015. This shows clear progress in refurbishing these homes.