More than half a million social homes in England do not meet basic health and safety standards

More than half a million social homes in England fail to meet basic health and safety standards, an analysis of official government data by The Independent has revealed.

Just weeks after the Grenfell Tower fire raised serious questions about the state of housing in the UK, new statistics show that 525,000 social homes currently do not meet the national Decent Homes Standard – almost one in seven of all social homes in England. 

Of these, 244,000 properties are deemed to have a category one safety hazard – the highest category of risk — which includes potentially fatal hazards such as exposed wiring, overloaded electricity sockets, dangerous boilers, leaking roofs, vermin infestations or inadequate security.

Local authorities have a legal duty to act if a category one hazard is discovered, but hundreds of thousands are going unreported or ignored. 

In total, it means more than a million people are likely to be living in social homes that fail the Government’s own minimum benchmark for human habitation. Millions more are suffering the same fate in properties rented from private landlords. 

The proportion of social homes that are sub-standard has barely fallen in recent years, as austerity policies mean government funding for housing improvements has dried up.

The new data comes from the government-commissioned English Housing Survey, which is published once a year and provides a snapshot of the state of housing.

It is likely to renew pressure on government ministers, local councils and housing associations to take action to improve the quality of social housing, especially in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster. 

As urgent testing of building cladding and insulation is conducted by the Government and local authorities, The Independent’s analysis raises broader questions about the safety of social homes – even in properties where building regulations have been met and the correct materials used.

Particularly worrying after…

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