|What are the key obstacles to the achievement of ‘a decent home for everyone’?|
Table of Contents
Providing a decent home for everyone has been the UK government’s target since it implemented the Decent House Programme in 2000. This concept has been part of the government’s main focus since this programme was implemented. Most people found this goal to be unreachable and very difficult to fulfil given the time scale and the amount of work that needed to be done. Getting a decent house in London is becoming more difficult because of factors that will be discussed later on in the report.
This report will be looking at government effort on providing a decent home for everyone. The first part of the report will look at an over view of the government’s Decent House Programme. I this part of the report, we will be looking at the definition of a decent home according to government specification. This part of the report will also look at the four main components that make up a decent home and what the government’s main goals are for this programme.
There are some problems that will slow down or completely prevent the provision of a decent home. The second part of the report will be answering the main question of this report. In this part of the report, we will be looking at the main problems faced by both the government and the landlords that prevent them from providing a decent home. These factors will include social and economic factors.
We are also going to give some recommendations on what the government and landlords can do in order to meet the decent home standards. We will be looking at ways in which the government and landlords can prevent these problems from happening again. There will be a conclusion at the end or the report to summarise this topic.
Planning for such a very essential in order to stay in budget and also meet goals. There are there always obstacles that will affect such projects. These could be unforeseen obstacles or projected ones.
A house is seen as poor if there have the following conditions; dampness, poor heating, major structural problems and poor food preparation areas (www.communities.gov.uk, 2000; Starkey, 2010). The decent home standard was passed when the labour party was in power under Tony Blair. The definition of a decent has been updated over the years to meet the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). A decent home has four basic criteria to meet in order to earn that title. These include:
1) A decent house should meet the current statutory minimum standard
2) It is in a state where it can be repaired (www.communities.gov.uk, 2000). This means the key building components that are old should be replaced or repaired to meet standards (www.communities.gov.uk, 2000)
3) It should have modern facilities and services available for use (www.communities.gov.uk, 2000). Kitchens in a decent home should be updated (has to be 20 years old or less) and have adequate space (www.communities.gov.uk, 2000). A decent home should have modern bathroom that are located in at an appropriate place in the house and not more than 30 years old (www.communities.gov.uk). Houses should have a adequate layout in their layout and size and also be insulated against noise coming into the house (www.communities.gov.uk, 2000)
4) Should have a good degree of comfort for those living in the house (www.communities.gov.uk, 2000). This means the heating and insulation in the house should be adequate for those living in it (www.communities.gov.uk, 2000)
Housing has become one of the United Kingdom’s biggest issues today because of its high demand and increase cost of building. With the real estate market going down, it is very difficult for families and individuals to get a decent home. In an article written by the Department of communities and Local Government, the government plans to carry work on more than 3.6 million homes to lift them up to a decent state (www.communities.gov.uk; 2010, Starkey, 2010). In the Decent House Program that was created, the government wanted to empower tenants with the management of their homes so they can manage by applying for funding from the government (www.communities.gov.uk; 2010, Starkey, 2010). About 95% of social houses were expected to be decent by the year 2010 with the rest undergoing repairs after this date (Starkey, 2010). The main reason for implementing the Decent Homes standards is to make social houses healthier for tenants (www.communities.gov.uk; 2010, Starkey, 2010). Local councils had to come up with a structured plan that will help them meet this standard by the year 2010. These plans also had to include those projects the council thought would not be completed by the year 2010. About 80% of UK homes are privately owned with 70% of all home owner-occupied and 12% privately rented (publications.parliament.uk, 2010).
Despite passing out laws to aid in the building of decent homes in the UK, there have been problems faced by local councils and landlords, causing them to miss the 2010 deadline. In a BBC article written in 2010, most council have failed to meet these deadlines (www.communities.gov.uk, 2000). The government has failed to meet its 95% target and almost 100,000 dwellings have failed to meet this standard (BBC.com, 2010). Almost 56% of properties in Havering, East London, has not been able to meet up with the Decent Home Standards; making it the highest failure in all UK local authority (BBC.com, 2010). Some of the factors that can be classified as problems include;
1) Based on the conditions that were presented to councils and landlords, landlords are not expected to meet the decent home standards if their tenants do not wish to make this change (www.communities.gov.uk, 2000). This means landlords are not allowed to carry out any work in the dwelling until it is empty again. This makes it difficult to for tenants to meet the standards in time. For example a tenant decides to live in the building until the end of the year 2010. This will increase the number of houses that do not meet the decent house standard at the end of that period.
2) The second problem is the cost that landlord are going to incur if they have to follow government regulations on implementing and environmentally friendly dwelling. The maintenance programme requires landlords to carry out repairs in an environmentally friendly way (www.communities.gov.uk, 2000). This is a very costly method and requires more money.
3) These standards do not apply to all homes in the UK. Share ownerships, leaseholds, care homes that are regulated by the Commission for Social Care and are given nursing care (). Providing a decent home for everyone in the UK will be a difficult task to achieve considering this condition. Those people living in leaseholds and care homes will find it more difficult to get funding for repairs and maintenance. Most of these houses will end up being unhealthy for occupants. Most people living in privately owned houses are likely to live in a non-decent home than those living in social housing (publications.parliament.uk, 2010). This is because landlords are illegible to the programme and can therefore not apply for funding.
4) Most owners today have been hit by the economic crisis, therefore forcing them to reduce the amount of maintenance work they carry out on their homes. High mortgage, home insurance, interest rates and job last is part of the problem. Prices of homes in the UK have been going down since 2008 and there has been little improvement since then. Private landlords find it costly to maintain their properties and carry out repairs. If the costs and measured against benefits, landlords and home owner find is very costly investing in their properties. A lot of home owners also lost their job during this period. This has made it difficult for home owners to manage their homes and make it decent. Most homes that are non-decent are privately owned.
5) Making a privately rented house a decent home for living is more difficult because of the lack of funds. Most people who live in such houses claim housing benefits and make it difficult for landlords to get finance from financial institutions to carryout repairs (www.communities.gov.uk, 2000).
6) A government cut in the public sector funding is not helping to provide decent homes. In 2010, the government decided to cut down spending on social housing from a proposed budget by the labour of £1.5 billion to about £250 million (Carl, 2010). This will affect especially those living in very poor areas of the country. A survey carried out in 2008 suggested the government will have a lot to do in order to meet the demand for decent homes (www.communities.gov.uk, 2000). The government will have to meet the rising demand by building up to 150,000 new homes in England between then and 2021 in order to meet the demand (www.communities.gov.uk, 2000).
7) Changes in policies make it difficult for people to get a decent home. As the government moves from one regime to another, policies change and make it difficult for local councils to follow their plans. Some policies give tenants little say in where they live and therefore become reluctant to put any effort in the management of their home.
8) Change in climate can be classified as an obstacle in providing a decent home. Britain has just experienced one of its coldest winters and many homes are experiencing break downs in their heating system. This is an unforeseen circumstance and can cause people to live in homes that are not decent. This winter in the UK was one of the coldest winters the country has experienced in a while.
The government can take certain measures to prevent high costs or maintenance in the future or make available more decent homes. Based on the problems listed above, the government can take the following steps to help provide decent homes
1) One of the best solutions for the future is to make sure that future houses a built in high standards (www.communities.gov.uk, 2000). The government has set rules and regulations that will make sure the new builds are suitable and accessible by everyone. Compared to 10 years ago, the level of technology in the construction industry has improved. Technology will play a vital role in innovation and should be an advantage local authorities should take.
2) Another factor the government has to consider is making sure that homeowners have enough finance to be able to maintain the cost of their homes (www.communities.gov.uk, 2004). This means home owners would have to show that they have money in their bank accounts or have a source of income (proper job) to be able to maintain their homes.
3) Another think local authorities should take into consideration is the priority factor. This means decent housing should be provided to those who need it most. Maintenance funds can be offered to the less privileged and to those with worst housing conditions.
4) The government should also make sure that landlords abide to the rules and regulations on a decent home. This can be done be done by carrying out checks on the properties and asking tenants about their living situations.
5) Privately rented property owners can also make sure that tenants sign contracts that will prevent the miss use of their properties. This may include collecting a deposit in case a tenant destroys something, the deposit will not be refunded to them. Instead, it would be used to repair any damages. Landlords should also make sure that tenants have a good source of income to regularly pay their rents so they can meet up with their mortgage obligations. This will give them more advantage in case they want to get money from the bank to finance any repairs.
6) In order avoid shortage in energy, home owners should always make sure their boilers are regularly checked by the energy providers and all repairs should be carried out immediately.
7) Look for a company that is offering the cheapest mortgage and best insurance in the market.
In this report, we have looked the obstacles faced in providing a decent home for everyone. The first part of this report looked at an overview on the Decent House Programme that was created by the labour party. We also looked at the definition of a decent home and the four main elements that make up a decent home which include: meeting minimum standards; being in a reparable state, be in a modern state and have a degree of comfort. We also looked at government targets and what the government plans to achieve in a given period.
We looked at the main obstacles that affect the provision of decent homes in the UK. We looked at the economy and how the financial crises has affected homes and caused loss of jobs giving home owners no other choice but to live in the present condition they are now. We also talked about the changes in government policies and cuts that have been made in the housing sectors and how they are going to affect the provision of decent homes for everyone. We have looked at what the government and private individuals can do in order to maintain their properties and also make sure that tenants meet some certain rules in order to occupy their properties. We also looked at natural factors, such as climate change, that has affected homes and could be an obstacle to providing a decent home. Providing solutions to these problems is very important for both the government and private home owners. We looked at some possible solutions the government and private home owners can implement in order make their homes more decent. This included; government policies on tenants, how landlords can solve the problem of repairs on damages caused by tenants and also how private home owners can manage their costs by getting the best mortgage and insurance deals.
Getting a decent home is very difficult today because of changes in economic, political and environmental factors. It is very important to live in a decent home for health reason. From the report we can say despite not reaching its target, the government has made a lot of effort in implementing this policy and is still trying it best to do so. With the spending cuts now taking effect, the main question now will be, will the government be able to continue with this program of finally slash it off?
- Carl, Brown (2010). Government cuts ‘mixed bag’ for housing sector http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/news/finance/government-cuts-mixed-bag-for-housing-sector/6509937.article date accessed 15/01/3011
- Communities.gov.uk (2000). A Decent Home: Definition and guidance for implementation http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/pdf/138019.pdf
- Publications.parliament.uk (2010). Beyond Decent Homes – Communities and Local Government Committee http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmcomloc/60/6007.htm date accessed 15/01/3011
- One in four council homes fails ‘Decent Homes Standard’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-11326597 date accessed 15/01/3011
- Quality and Choice: Publications.parliament.uk (2000). A Decent Home for All http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmcomloc/60/6007.htm date accessed 15/01/3011
- Starkey, Phyllis (2010). Beyond decent homes: fourth report of session 2009-10, Vol. 1: Report, together with formal minutes. Volume 1. The Stationery Office