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Decent Homes upgrade scheme 'late and expensive'

A government programme to upgrade poor social housing will take eight years longer than planned and cost almost twice as much as initially suggested, the Whitehall spending watchdog has said

The ‘public service agreement’ announced in 2000 to ensure all local authority properties met ‘decent’ standards by 2010 will not be fulfilled until 2018/19, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).

The total cost of repairs is set to hit £37 billion in 2010/11, meanwhile, compared with the estimated £19 billion that the repairs backlog was thought to cost in 1997.

In a report, the NAO said the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) had failed to properly work out the costs in advance or to sufficiently monitor progress by councils and arms-length management companies.

While 1.4 million homes had been upgraded under the Decent Homes programme by November last year, only 92 per cent of social housing is expected to meet the standard by this year.

That would leave 305,000 homes ‘non-decent’, with the last of those only improved by 2018/19.

The DCLG was also unable to say exactly how much it had invested in the programme where funding had been channelled through separate streams like the major repairs allowance and the regional housing pot, the NAO found.

The head of the NAO, Amyas Morse, called for a ‘reliable funding mechanism’ to be introduced to deliver the remainder of the Decent Homes programme.

‘Hundreds of thousands of families are still living in properties which are not warm, weather-tight, or in a reasonable state of repair,’ he said.

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