Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Reading Borough Council Housing Meets Decent Homes Standard

More good local housing news this week - Council-owned housing in Reading has met Decent Homes Standard. The standard requires that social housing:
  1. Must meet the current statutory minimum standard for housing
  2. Must be in a reasonable state of repair
  3. Must have reasonably modern facilities and services.
  4. Must provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort.
From the Council's official press release:
"In the last six years the Council has replaced over 2,000 bathrooms, 2,500 boilers and 2,600 kitchens in addition to over 1,300 homes fully refurbished in north Whitley under the Affinity PFI project.
In 2000, the Government set local authorities a target to ensure 'all social housing met set standards of decency by 2010'. The Council has now achieved this major long-term target, which saw a full and detailed survey of more than 7,500 Council managed properties in Reading, including homes in north Whitley which are managed on behalf of the Council by Affinity.

Tenants all over the borough have had their kitchens and bathrooms modernised, improved heating, electric re-wiring, as well as new doors and windows and also the repair of roofs to the outside of their properties. And with tenants facing increasing gas and electricity charges from utility companies, the Council has put significant investment into insulation so tenants can save money on their fuel bills."
I am delighted that Council houses in Reading are now meeting this standard. This has come about through years of work and cooperation by surveyors, tradespeople, Council staff and of course tenants.

The Decent Homes Programme is one policy from the Blair-Brown era that I do agree with and one I have supported locally as it has delivered tangible improvements for tenants. It is a pity that the Labour Government so comprehensively failed when it came to building more much-needed council homes.

 My only real criticisms of the policy is that the then Labour Government's focus on improving council homes led many estate areas to be neglected and also meant some councils including Reading (when it was Labour controlled) to overlook housing quality in the private rented sector. 

The new Lib Dem-Conservative administration in Reading is working hard to tackle some of these issues via our unique Decent Neighbourhoods Fund and using a variety of tools to improve private rented housing including the introduction of a new Landlord Accreditation Scheme.

Council homes need ongoing maintenance to ensure that they remain decent so we will be investing over £10 million pounds as a Council in these properties in the coming year to ensure they continue to meet required standards.

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