Questions raised over council’s social housing stock

40% of council housing in borough fails to meet minimum standards, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Council housing in Carterhatch Lane, Enfield
Council housing in Carterhatch Lane, Enfield

Around four in ten council homes in Enfield fail to meet a minimum social housing standard put in place by the government.

Figures released by Enfield Council reveal around 40% of its housing stock is classed as non-decent – significantly higher than the London average of 11.6%

First unveiled in April 2000, the decent homes standard sets several criteria which social housing should satisfy, including that it must be in a ‘reasonable’ state of repair; have reasonably modern facilities and services; and have a ‘reasonable’ degree of thermal comfort.

Documents presented to the council’s overview and scrutiny committee on 10th November reveal that in 2008 Enfield had the second-highest non-decent stock in the UK. From 2011 to 2017, the proportion classed as non-decent fell from more than 40% to just over 20%. But since then, the figure has climbed back to 40%.

Speaking after the scrutiny meeting, James Hockney, a Conservative member of the committee, said the report “made for pretty shocking reading”. He added: “Quite how Enfield Council is so far away from achieving the London average is just shocking – and generally it has gone backwards if you look at the figures. They did get the numbers down by 2016/17 to 20% – and now they have gone completely backwards on it.”

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The scrutiny committee also received a separate report on the impact of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry on Enfield and fire safety. The report notes assurance that the council “does not have any high-risk cladding” was previously presented to the committee.

Risk assessments of high-rise residential buildings have been carried out and complemented by fire risk assessments, the report adds, resulting in “development of investment works programmes”.

However, the report notes that while progress has been made in preparing for the implementation of both the Building Safety Act and Fire Safety Act, “there remains a significant amount of work to be done”.

It adds: “Ongoing investment in capacity and competencies across the council and via the building safety team remain essential to ensure full compliance with regulations. A focus on existing landlord compliance performance, specifically fire safety, also needs to continue to be managed and monitored closely to provide assurance.”

Cllr Hockney said it was “incredible” that no-one from the council’s cabinet was present at the meeting to answer questions on “such an important report”.

He added that he had made a recommendation designed to ensure that tower block residents who want sprinklers to be fitted in their blocks have a way of discussing the issue with the council.

The recommendation, which was agreed unanimously, was to ensure residents “are made fully aware of the availability and options regarding fire safety in tower blocks during any construction or remedial works undertaken and that this be fully communicated to residents”.

The council was approached for comment.

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