Millions of people struggle with bad housing and homelessness across Britain. The problem is most acute in the private rented sector where three in ten properties fail to meet the Government’s Decent Homes Standard1. And when tenants challenge their landlord to improve living conditions, they sometimes face unfair eviction. With the chronic shortage in housing coupled with rising property prices that bar people from becoming home owners, an increasing number of people will be affected by issues in the private rented sector as it grows to an expected 22% of all households by 2025.
To create better homes for Britain, we are combining our expertise and influence through a five year partnership with Shelter to raise the standard of 1m privately rented homes by the end of 2017. To achieve this, we are improving gas and electrical safety and making homes more energy efficient. At the same time, we are providing advice for tenants and landlords on their rights and obligations while advocating for legislative change with Government.
As a result, we estimate that we are now over half way towards meeting our shared goal set in 2012 of raising the standard of 1m privately rented homes.
During 2014, we successfully campaigned for carbon monoxide alarms and electrical safety checks to be made mandatory in rental properties in Scotland. We are engaging Government to extend this requirement across the UK and in 2015, regulations in England will require landlords to install carbon monoxide alarms in rooms considered most at risk from poisoning. Our 10,000 British Gas engineers also helped improve the energy efficiency of rental properties, primarily through the installation of insulation.
Our partnership also means that a growing number of people can benefit from expert advice and assistance on energy and household bills. Over the past two years, the British Gas Energy Trust (BGET) has funded six expert debt and energy advisors at Shelter, while over 2,400 people have received a BGET grant totalling £161,150. In 2015, the Trust will increase funding for 15 debt and energy advisors at Shelter.
To maximise our contribution, our employees also support Shelter through volunteering and fundraising. We raised £462,660 for Shelter in 2014, £242,000 of which was secured as part of British Gas Treks Britain in which 4,000 of our people put on their walking boots and running shoes to help end bad housing and homelessness. In total, we have now contributed £705,800 against our £1m employee fundraising target due at the end of 2017.
1 English Housing Survey 2013/14