First the good news. In recent years the number of council homes that fail to meet the “decent homes standard” nationally has been falling. As on the 1st April 2014 there were 145,737 “non-decent dwellings” owned by local authorities in England. See Section F of this dataset. As of April 1st last year, the latest figures available, it was down to 83,440 “dwellings”. The dataset for that year is here.
In London the number has fallen from 72,885 in 2014 to 47,232 last year.
But in Hammersmith and Fulham it is a different story. On April 1st 2014 there were 536 “non-decent” council homes in the borough. The next month the borough was under new management. Labour won the council elections after promising council tenants a better deal. What has been the reality? By April 1st last year the number of “non-decent” council homes was 1,095. That is more than double. These are the official figures based on the Council’s own returns.
Now the “decent homes standard” isn’t a perfect measure. It includes the perverse requirement to replace sash windows with PVC. But those cold statistics do give a pretty clear measure of the extent of Labour’s mismanagement and neglect. Anybody who goes canvassing on a council estate can see it for themselves – frankly the figures sound like a gross underestimate. 605 council homes in Hammersmith and Fulham are categorised as “not in a reasonable state of repair” (up from 147 in 2014). 92 are “without reasonable modern amenities and services” (up from nil in 2014). There are also 499 “without a reasonable degree of thermal warmth” (up from 392).
As a percentage, the “non-decent” council homes has risen from four per cent of the council’s housing stock, in 2014, to nine per cent last year.
Other councils have made great progress during the same time. In Kingston the number of “non decent” has fallen from 1,596 to 91. Havering has seen a fall from 1,929 to just 40.
By contrast when the Conservatives were running the Council the number of “non-decent council homes” was reduced. In the last four years of the Conservatives running the Council the number fell by more than half. In 2010 it was 1,322. As noted above by 2014 it was down to 536.
I wrote earlier about the amount of new affordable housing being slashed under Labour.
So the facts are stark. Labour uses class war rhetoric about being “on the side” of council tenants while portraying the Conservatives as the enemy. But the truth is that council tenants have lost out more than anyone else as a consequence of Labour running the Council.