§ Mr. Alan Keen
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what progress his Department is making in reviewing the housing fitness standard. 
§ Ms Armstrong
My Department has today issued a consultation paper on the housing fitness standard to seek the views of the local government associations and other relevant bodies on a range of proposals and options for change. The proposals have been drawn up taking into account responses received to an earlier initiating discussion paper; the results of research undertaken by Warwick University and the Building Research Establishment; and discussions with practitioner bodies and housing professionals.
It should be the aim of any housing fitness standard to provide a means for identifying, and thereby enabling action to be targeted on, those sections of the housing stock where the health and safety risks are the greatest. The main proposal, outlined in more detail in the consultation paper, is for a fitness rating approach to be developed and tested as a successor to the current standard. This would given an overall rating to a property based on an assessment of a range of housing characteristics, rather than the current pass/fail on one or more requirements. A fitness rating approach would surpass the existing standard by encompassing all the important health and safety risks in the home but also by distinguishing the varying severity of those risks. As a result it would have the potential for providing a more effective mechanism for the evaluation of the housing stock, both nationally and locally, and for the targeting of resources as well as for determining where intervention and public resources are needed most.
I have arranged for copies of the consultation paper and the research to be placed in the Library of each House.