English | Cymraeg Tel: 029 2076 5760 Connect: Twitter

What’s in a standard?

A year ago, WHQ compared the approach of national governments in Wales, England and Scotland to the improvement of local authority housing stock. Now, WHQ compares the standards that local authorities are working towards in the three countries.

  Wales England Scotland
What’s the standard called? Welsh Housing Quality Standard Decent Homes Scottish Housing Quality Standard<
Timescale for social landlords to reach the standard 2012 2010 2015
Interim timescales Council housing business plans to be submitted by April 2004. By end of 2004, all tenants to be aware of WHQS and how their landlord intends to meet it Authorities to complete option appraisals by May 2005 to be signed off by Government Office and integrated with wider renewal strategies Local authorities and registered social landlords to produce Standard Delivery Plans by April 2005 to be assessed by Communities Scotland
Coverage of the standard All tenures, but focus is on social housing Social housing and private sector housing occupied by ‘vulnerable’ households All tenures but application will vary according to tenure
Reference document for the standard The Welsh Housing Quality Standard, WAG A Decent Home; The definition and guidance for implementation ODPM Scottish Housing Quality Standard Letter of Definition 4 February 2004, Scottish Executive
Summary of components of the standard      
Repair   Meets the current statutory minimum standard for housing, Dwellings below this standard are those defined as unfit under section 604 of the Housing Act 1985 Compliant with the tolerable standard, Dwellings below this standard are defined as being Below Tolerable Standard
  In a good state of repair, ie: structurally stable, free from dampness prejudicial to the occupants, free from disrepair Reasonable state of repair. Dwellings which do not meet this criterion are those where one or more key building components are old and, because of their condition, need replacing or major repair, or two or more of the other building components are cold and, because of their condition, need replacing or major repair Free from serious repair. Dwellings which do not meet this criterion are those where one primary building element fails (ie needs repair or replacement of more than 20%), two or more secondary building elements fail. Secondary building elements are structural components of the home, including damp proof course and underground drainage
Up to date Contain up-to-date kitchens and bathrooms, Kitchen no more than 15 years old unless in good condition and meets the safety, space and layout criteria designed in accordance with Minimum Requirements, Bathroom no more than 25 years old unless in good condition and include fittings as in Minimum Requirements Reasonably modern facilities and services. Dwellings which fail to meet this criterion are those which lack three or more of the following: a reasonably modern kitchen (20 years old or less), a kitchen with adequate space and layout, a reasonably modern bathroom (30 years or less), an appropriately located bathroom and WC, adequate insulation against external noise (where this is a problem), adequate size and layout of common areas for blocks of flats Modern facilities and services, Kitchen fittings in good and usable condition, Adequate kitchen storage, space for cooker and safe kitchen working arrangements, Bathroom amenities to include a WC, bath or shower and wash hand basin in good and usable condition
Safety Safe and secure, ie free from evident safety hazards, particularly in respect of stairs and landlords, kitchens, fire escape, electrical installations, heating and appliances, security, outside the home   Healthy, safe and secure, including lead free internal pipe work, mechanical ventilation in kitchen and bathroom where required, adequate noise insulation, smoke detector, safe electrical, gas and oil systems and appliances, common areas in good and safe order with adequate lighting, secure access doors, entry systems and secure rear access to common areas
Thermal efficiency Adequately heated, fuel efficient and well insulated Provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort with effective insulation and efficient heating Energy efficient, Effective insulation, efficient heating and additional energy efficiency measures where technically feasible
Well managed Housing should be managed fairly, efficiently and well managed to address the needs of tenants as individuals and as part of a community    
Wider environment Located in attractive and safe environments    
Household specific As far as possible suit the specific requirements of the households, eg specific disabilities    
Applying the standard WHQS document includes minimum requirements and good practice guidance, Minimum requirements not intended to be exhaustive, Local authorities expected to consider whether they are satisfied that the best possible solution has been achieved DHS is a minimum standard, DHS is a standard that triggers action, not one to which work is necessarily carried out, Landlords are not expected to make a home decent if this is against a tenant’s wishes Social landlords can augment the Standard with additional local specifications following consultation with tenants, Private sector owners to decide whether to make improvements if their property does meet the Standard – no date set for private sector
Current issues Wales Programme for Improvement identified backlog maintenance and the scope for investment as significant risk in many local authorities, Measurability of the standard, Will standard be achieved? Recent Select Committee report questioned whether standard is too basic and whether target will be met Cost of achieving the standard. CIH Scotland calling for ALMOs to be an option for local authorities, a new grant to assist housing associations to meet the standard

The standards: summary

Welsh Housing Quality Standard

In a good state of repair
Safe and secure
Adequately heated, fuel efficient and well insulated
Up-to-date kitchens and bathrooms
Well managed (for rented housing)
Located in attractive and safe environments
As far as possible suit the specific requirements of the household

Decent Homes

Meets the current statutory minimum standard for housing
In a reasonable state of repair
Has reasonably modern facilities and services
Provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort

Scottish Housing Quality Standard

Compliant with the Tolerable Standard
Free from serious disrepair
Energy efficient
Provided with modern facilities and services
Healthy, safe and secure

Sign up to our email newsletter

Every two months we'll email you a summary of the latest news & articles on the WHQ website. Better still, if you're a fully paid up magazine subscriber, you'll get access to the latest members-only articles as well.

Sign up for the email newsletter »

Looking to advertise in our magazine?

Advertising and sponsored features are a great way to raise your profile with our readership of housing and regeneration decision makers in Wales.

Find out more »