The Labour MP Sadiq Khan is the Shadow Justice Secretary but he is more interested in becoming Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London. That may be an indication that he is assuming Labour will lose the General Election.
In any event in seeking to gather material for his Mayoral campaign he put down the following Parliamentary Question.
“To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, how many homes in each London Borough failed to meet the decent homes standard in each year since 2010.”
The Housing Minister Brandon Lewis replied:
“The last Labour Government 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 almost one in ten homes failed to meet the standard by 2010.
“Indeed, the last Labour Government actually 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).
“By contrast, 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.
“Across England, the number of non-decent local authority dwellings has fallen from 291,600 on 1 April 2010 to 184,100 in April 2013, and continues to fall thanks to our continuing investment.
“The attached table shows figures for London Boroughs, based on their own estimates. Figures for some Boroughs fluctuate from year to year due to councils carrying out more thorough assessments on the state of individual properties; yet there is a clear downward trend across London.”
The table also shows that it is Labour councils that are the worst offenders. Mr Khan will be pleased that the number of non decent council homes in Wandsworth, as measured by Labour’s Decent Homes standard, has fallen to nil. In Labour Lambeth it is 9,733. In Labour Southwark the figure has actually increased to 16,526 – by far the highest in London. Labour Enfield also saw an increase – from 3,518 to 4,329. In Haringey the number of non-decent homes has fallen by a tiny amount – from 4,499 in 2010 to to 4,482 last year. I am pleased that in Hammersmith and Fulham, under the Conservatives, it fell from 979 in 2010 to nil by last year. Over the same period in Barnet it fell from 567 to five.
Some Labour councils such as Newham have done better but generally Mr Khan should be telling his colleagues to buck up.
The Decent Homes programme has been hugely inefficient. It cost the taxpayer £40bn and stung leaseholders with huge bills. Scaffolding would be left up for months while work was delayed. Perfectly good sash windows were replaced by ugly PVC ones that resulted in condensation.
So the whole programme was flawed. But it is Labour – nationally and locally – who have been responsible for the worst delays and botch ups.