HC Deb 09 February 2004 vol 417 cc1357-8W
Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what action his Department has taken to ensure that all social sector homes have(a) adequate loft and cavity wall insulation, (b) an efficient heating system and (c) a minimum energy efficiency rating. [153278].

Keith Hill

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has a Public Service Agreement to provide that all social sector tenants have the opportunity of a decent home by 2010. The decent homes standard has four criteria, one of which relates to thermal comfort and requires the home to have efficient heating as well as effective insulation.

Delivery of the decent homes target will involve carrying out improvement works to the thermal comfort of 1.26 million dwellings and will ensure that all social sector homes have effective insulation and efficient heating. Of these 77 per cent. fail on insulation, 17 per cent. fail on heating and 6 per cent. fail on both.

In addition, all new social sector homes grant-funded by the Housing Corporation are required to achieve an EcoHomes 'Pass' rating, which goes beyond the minimum standards for energy efficiency of all new developments that are set out in part L of the Building Regulations. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is committed to further amendments to Part L which will increase the energy efficiency of new dwellings and which should be in place by 2005.

There is no requirement that social homes meet a minimum energy efficiency rating.

Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what studies his Department has commissioned into the standards of(a) insulation and (b) heating systems in social sector housing. [153279]

Keith Hill

The English House Condition Survey provides a comprehensive range of data on insulation and heating standards in the social sector stock. The latest data are from the 2001 survey. Information from the 2002–03 combined survey will be available in November 2004.

Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the adequacy of the decent homes standard set for social housing. [153280]

Keith Hill

When the decent homes target was first set, a definition was established so that those responsible for delivery were working to a common outcome, resources required for delivery could be established and progress tracked. A decent home is one which:

  • meets the current statutory minimum standard for housing (fitness standard)
  • is in a reasonable state of repair
  • has reasonably modern facilities and services
  • provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort

The standard is a minimum standard. It is the standard that triggers action and is not the standard that we expect work to be done to. The guidance on implementation of the standard encourages landlords, in partnership with their tenants, to go beyond the basic requirements of the decent homes standard where possible.

Resources available to tackle poor condition housing are limited and therefore we focussed the definition on the essentials to provide a warm, wind and weather tight home.

Chris Ruane

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many(a) council houses and flats and (b) social housing units were built in each of the last 25 years. [153596]

Keith Hill

National numbers, based on reports from local authorities and National House-Building Council, are published in Housing Statistics 2003 (Tables 2.5a–2.5f), a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.

Jeremy Corbyn

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what representations he has received concerning the proportion of social housing to be included in new developments in Greater London; and if he will make a statement. [153947]

Keith Hill

The issue is frequently raised in the context of individual planning cases and sometimes in relation to borough unitary development plans and associated supplementary planning guidance. The issue was discussed at the examination in public of the draft London Plan in April 2003. Since then, the House Builders' Federation have raised the issue in discussions with officials in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

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