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NAO identifies risks to Decent Homes work

The National Audit Office has identified three major risks to the completion of the Government’s Decent Homes programme.

The Department for Communities and Local Government had aimed to bring all social homes up to Decent standard by the end of this year.

But by November 2009, it was estimating that only about 92 per cent of social housing would meet the standard by 2010, leaving 305,000 properties to be worked on.

Spending watchdog the NAO today said local delivery, funding and the recession posed risks to the completion of the work.

In a report published today, it said of local delivery: “Eleven arms length management organisations have yet to achieve the required inspection rating to access funding, while eight retaining authorities have yet to finalise their delivery plans.”

On funding, it added: “Unless a plan is put in place to appropriately fund housing repairs, there remains a risk that a backlog will again build up, reducing the value for money of what has been achieved so far.”

Finally, on the economic conditions, it said: “The recession may increase the number of vulnerable households in private sector accommodation. It is also likely that private home-owners will have less money to spend on their properties.”

Edward Leigh MP, chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts, said: “While progress has undoubtedly been made, and hundreds of thousands of homes have been improved, it is plainly ridiculous that the department started the programme without trying to establish how much it would cost and, now that we are 10 years into the programme, it does not know how much has been spent, nor does it know how many properties have been improved.”