United Kingdom

Non-decent homes

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • The ‘decent homes’ standard is the primary indicator of stock condition applied in England.  A dwelling is defined as ‘decent’ if it meets the statutory minimum standard, provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort, is in a reasonable state of repair and has reasonably modern facilities.  Note that in 2006, the government changed the definitions for the first two of these criteria, in particular making the statutory minimum standard much stricter.
  • In 2009, around 30% of all homes in England were classified as non-decent.
  • This proportion has fallen steadily from 35% in 2006 to 30% in 2009.  Direct comparisons with earlier years is not possible because of the change in definition.  However, it is clear that has proportion has been declining since at least the mid-1990s (45%, using the old definition).
  • Rates of non-decency are highest in the private rented sector.  However, because owner-occupation is by far the most common tenure, it still accounts for two-thirds of all non-decent homes.
  • Poor households are no more likely to live in a non-decent home than richer households.  There are substantial numbers of households in non-decent homes at all levels of income.
  • The proportion of homes which are non-decent is much higher in the more rural areas: around 50% of homes in the most rural areas and villages compared to around 30% in small towns and urban areas.
  • The proportion of homes in England which are non-decent varies from around 40% in the South West to less than 25% in the North East.

Why this indicator was originally chosen

The conditions in which people live affect their health, relations between household members, and the development of children.

Definitions and data sources

‘Non-decent’ homes are those which do not meet the government’s standard for ‘decent homes’ whereby housing should: be above a statutory minimum standard (i.e. be fit for habitation); provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort; be in a reasonable state of repair; and provide reasonably modern facilities and services.  In 2006, the government changed the definitions for the first two of these criteria, in particular replacing the previous minimum standard criterion as the statutory element by a newly defined Housing and Safety Rating System.  The net effect of this change was to increase the number of homes classified as ‘non decent’.  Data for 2007 onwards is only available using the new definition, whilst data for 2005 and earlier is only available using the old definition.

The first graph shows the proportion of homes deemed to be ‘non-decent’, with the data shown separately by tenure.  The data for 2007 onwards uses the new definition of ‘non decency’, the data for 2005 and earlier uses the old definition, and the data for 2006 is shown for both definitions.

The second graph shows, for the latest year, the shares of ‘non-decent’ homes in each tenure.

The third graph shows how the proportion of homes that are ‘non-decent’ varies by the income of household.  Note that the allocation of households to income quintiles uses ‘equivalised household income’ after deducting housing costs, which means that the household incomes have been adjusted to put them on a like-for-like basis given the size and composition of the households.  This means that the results are somewhat different than those in some other publications which use either unadjusted household incomes or incomes before deducting housing costs.

The fourth graph shows how the proportion of homes that are ‘non-decent’ varies by region.

The fifth graph shows how the proportion of homes that are ‘non-decent’ varies by type of area using the government’s 2004 classification system for small areas, which (from most rural through to urban) classifies areas as ‘hamlet and isolated dwellings’, ‘village’, ‘small town and fringe’ and ‘urban’, where ‘urban’ is any settlement of more than 10,000 people.  Note that there is an alternative classification system which could have been used, where the surveyor of the property allocates it to one of six categories, three of which are rural.  The results using the two alternative classification systems are different, but show a broadly similar pattern.

To improve its statistical reliability, the data in the third to fifth graphs is the average for the latest three years.

The data source for all the graphs is the the stock dataset from the English Housing Survey (EHS) and relates to England.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: medium.  EHS is a well-established, regular government survey, designed to be nationally representative but there is no direct link with the subject of poverty and social exclusion.

External links

Relevant 2007 Public Service Agreements

Overall aim:  Increase long-term housing supply and affordability

Lead department

Department for Communities and Local Government

Official national targets

Increase the number of net additional homes provided per annum to 240,000 by 2016.

Increase the number of gross affordable homes provided per annum to 70,000 by 2010-11 including 45,000 social homes.

Halve the number of households in temporary accommodation to 50,500 households by 2010.

By March 2011, 80% of local planning authorities to have adopted the necessary Development Plan Documents, in accordance with their agreed Local Development Scheme.

Other indicators of progress

Trends in affordability.

Efficiency rating of new homes.

Previous 2004 targets

By 2010, bring all social housing into decent condition with most of this improvement taking place in deprived areas, and for vulnerable households in the private sector, including families with children, increase the proportion who live in homes that are in decent condition.

Eliminate fuel poverty in vulnerable households in England by 2010 in line with the Government’s Fuel Poverty Strategy objective Joint with the department for Trade and Industry.

The numbers

Graph 1

DefinitionYear Private rented Social rented Owner occupied All tenures
Old definition1996 62% 53% 40% 45%
2001 51% 39% 29% 33%
2003 48% 35% 28% 31%
2004 43% 31% 27% 29%
200541% 29% 25% 27%
200640% 29% 24% 27%
New definition200647% 29% 35% 35%
200745% 29% 34% 35%
200844% 27% 32% 33%
200941% 23% 29% 30%

Graph 2

Private rented Social rented Owner occupied
1.5M 0.8M 4.4M

Graph 3

Poorest fifth 35%
2nd 33%
Middle fifth32%
4th 30%
Richest fifth 31%

Graph 4

East 30%
East Midlands 32%
London 33%
North East 23%
North West 34%
South East 31%
South West 39%
West Midlands 33%
Yorkshire and The Humber 34%

Graph 5

Hamlets and isolated dwellings53%
Small towns and fringe31%