The Social Housing White Paper committed the government to a review of the Decent Homes Standard and now MHCLG has established a sounding board, which includes the National Housing Federation, to explore the issues involved.
The sounding board is not a decision-taking body. Final decisions about the Decent Homes Standard will rest with ministers.
The first meeting of the sounding board took place on 8 February and focused on the first criterion of the Decent Homes Standard, which is that homes should be free of category 1 hazards - defined by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) as a hazard that is a serious and immediate risk to a person's health and safety. It was noted that although the proportion of homes with a category 1 hazard had tended to fall over time, as many as 6% of all social homes (4% in the housing association sector) still contained at least one such hazard (usually by reason of unsafe stairways, damp or mould).
There was substantial discussion about the relationship between the HHSRS and statutory requirements that homes be fit for habitation, and whether the Decent Homes Standard should refer to the fitness requirement in addition to, or instead of, the HHSRS.
Further sounding board meetings, which have been scheduled at two-monthly intervals, will examine other aspects of the Decent Homes Standard.
We will be consulting members throughout the process, including through existing member groups. Members can also contact us directly to input into the review.