Apr 20, 2021

Decent Homes Review – from an environmental perspective

The Government review of the Decent Homes Standard is currently underway, and we were grateful for the opportunity to contribute our thoughts to the review. We believe the new Decent Homes can be an excellent mechanism for delivering environmental improvements that benefit residents and wider society.  It will also be an excellent mechanism for assisting Government in delivering other environmental policies.

Alignment with other legislation

The first question asked for thoughts on whether the Standard should align more closely with other Government legislation. We highlighted that the provision of quality green spaces features heavily in the Social Housing White Paper and aligns with existing national strategies and policies including those for new build. Also referenced in the White Paper is “responding and being resilient to climate change” and although not specifically mentioned, the most obvious factors in this context are flood risk, water security and overheating risk.

Thermal comfort has been a priority of Decent Homes since its inception, but we evidenced that there are now tangible fuel poverty targets that should be incorporated into the Standard referenced in Government’s latest Energy White Paper, Sustainable Warmth Strategy and Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.

Overall, we expressed that the new Decent Homes Standard is an excellent opportunity to align with other Government environmental policies and that it will highlight to landlords that environmental protection contributes significantly to the long-term safety and wellbeing of their residents.

Practicalities of the existing standard

The following question referred to the practicalities of remedying hazards in the housing stock. We had no major comments to share on this but did mention that the Standard drove improvements throughout the sector and encouraged “easy wins” on energy efficiency such as cavity wall insulation.

Changes to Decent Homes criterion

The final question asked for proposals for changes to the Decent Homes criterion. We stated that the power of the current Decent Homes standard is that it is very much based on metrics and reporting to the regulator.  Using metrics and KPIs has enabled achieving Decent Homes to be something that landlords can manage well. This “manage what you can measure” approach is ideal for extending to environmental metrics.  As well as allowing the regulator to track progress, similar metrics are already being requested from social landlords by other institutions e.g ESG reporting to the financial sector. We also provided further information / guidance for the inclusion of environmental metrics covering carbon, waste, water, green spaces, flood and overheating risk.

If you would like to discuss any of our answers in more detail or would like access to our briefing note for environmental improvements to the Decent Homes Standard, please get in touch: https://shiftenvironment.co.uk/contact/