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Decent Homes delivery facing delay

Work to bring council housing in England up to “decent” standards is not being sufficiently monitored and about 305,000 homes will fail to reach the required minimum level by a December deadline, a parliamentary report has claimed.

The Government has been urged to keep a closer eye on the multibillion-pound programme to improve social housing after the report found ministers did not have precise figures on the cost of the work or the number of homes involved.

The Decent Homes Programme has made some inroads with more than 1.1 million properties undergoing improvement since 2001. A total of 810,000 new kitchens have been fitted, with 610,000 new bathrooms and 1.14 million central heating systems installed.

But the report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee said it is estimated that more than 300,000 homes will not meet the Department for Communities and Local Government’s December 2010 target for all social housing to reach “decent” standards.

The last work is now not due for completion until 2018/19 and the report said ministers’ original estimate of £19 billion for the programme was “not fit for purpose”.

Work bringing council and housing association homes up to standard will have cost local authorities and registered social landlords £37 billion by the end of 2010/11.

It is “not clear” exactly how much money DCLG has given the social housing sector to cover the cost of the programme, as the department could not say what proportion of the £22 billion it provided for repair work up to 2008/09 went on Decent Homes projects.