“Non-Decent” Council Housing Is On The Rise In South Yorkshire

Homes are failing to meet minimum standards of safety, comfort and repair.

Hundreds of council-owned homes in South Yorkshire are failing to meet minimum standards for safety, comfort and repair. The latest government figures reveal that at least 1,273 properties owned by councils in South Yorkshire failed to meet the Decent Homes Standard at the end of March 2020. A “non-decent” home is defined as one that fails to meet the statutory safety standards, does not provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort, is not in a reasonable state of repair, or does not have reasonably modern facilities. A housing charity has warned that this can include issues such as damp, mould and faulty heating, which can have a significant impact on tenants’ physical and mental health.

Only a small proportion of council homes in South Yorkshire are not considered in a fit state to live in according to this criteria – just 1% of the total number. However, only the properties that local authorities have been made aware of are included in the count, meaning the true number of council homes in this state could be higher. The figure ranges from no council-owned homes classed as non-decent in Doncaster, to 4% in Barnsley, where the council said it was investing heavily in its housing stock with a £121m cash injection approved for the next five years.

The 1,273 non-decent council-owned properties in South Yorkshire in March last year were up from 1,201 in March 2019. That’s despite councils in the area spending a combined £11.0 million on making non-decent homes decent in 2019/20, and at least £1.2 million preventing more homes from becoming non-decent in the first place (although Barnsley did not provide a figure for this). It is estimated that councils in South Yorkshire would need to spend at least a further £17.0 million to bring all non-decent homes in the area up to standard.

Across England, 76,814 council homes were known to be non-decent as of March 2020 – up from 71,259 in March 2019 and 70,324 in April 2018.