‘Better homes for Britain’

British Gas & Shelter join forces to tackle Britain's housing crisis 1 in 3 private rented homes not ‘decent' to live in (Survey of English Housing)

British Gas, Britain’s biggest energy supplier, and Shelter, the housing charity, have today announced a major five-year partnership that will help one million British households improve the standard of their homes.

‘Better Homes for Britain’: A blueprint for change

British Gas and Shelter are today setting out ‘Better Homes for Britain’; a joint three-point plan for improving standards in the private rented sector, which includes:

  1. A joint commitment to improve the standard of one million homes in the private rented sectorover the next five years

  2. Helping private landlords meet the statutory minimum standard for private rented homes

  3. Policy recommendations to raise standards in the private rented sector

The private rented sector: taking action to support families

Since 2001, the number of private rented homes has grown from 2.06m to 3.62m households (a rise of 75%). The growth in the rental sector is set to increase with 22% of all households living in privately rented homes by 2025.

As the number of private rented homes has grown, so too has the number of homes which fail to meet a basic living standard. Around 1.4 million private rented homes (37%) do not meet the basic standard of being a ‘decent home’ (source: English Housing Survey, DCLG). In the social housing sector, the same homes would be deemed ‘unfit’ under the Government’s Decent Homes Standard.

Why homes fail to meet the standard

Private rented homes affected

Inadequate thermal comfort; the home is too cold


Inadequate health and safety; including poor electrical or carbon monoxide safety, damp


State of disrepair; including, broken heating, poor glazing


Source: English Housing Survey, DCLG (note: components do not sum to total as homes may fail on more than one component)

Better information for better homes

Although the growth in the private rented sector will mean the sector becomes a mainstream part of the housing market, relatively little data about the condition of these homes is available at a household level. To address this, Shelter and British Gas are commissioning the widest ever census of private rented living. This will be published in due course.

Phil Bentley, Managing Director of British Gas said:

“At British Gas, we visit 50,000 homes everyday keeping our customers’ homes safe, warm and working. However, private rented homes are lagging behind owner occupied homes and the social housing improvement programmes we are proud to support.

“Dilapidated properties with dangerous or inefficient old boilers and inadequate insulation are far too prevalent in the private rental sector. We need a culture of energy efficiency, and standards need to be raised.

“British Gas is proud to be joining forces with Shelter. Together we plan to deliver better standards in the private rented sector, better support for tenants and, most importantly, better homes for Britain.”

Campbell Robb, CEO of Shelter, said:

“A lack of affordable housing and the difficulties facing young people today in getting on the property ladder mean renting is now a long-term way of life for more and more families across the country.

“With these increasing levels of demand, it is totally unacceptable that so many of our rented properties are still not meeting the basic standards families should be able to expect in their home. At Shelter we see so many shocking examples of families forced to live in homes that are damp, in appalling condition or even unsafe to live in.

“Together with British Gas, we’ll have the scale and reach to improve the condition of a million homes and set out the policy reform we need to improve our private rental sector for good.”




1. For a dwelling to be considered ‘decent’ under the Decent Homes Standard, it must:

Meet the statutory minimum standard for housing (since April 2006 this has been the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). Homes posing a Category 1 hazard under the HHSRS are considered non-decent.

  • Be in a reasonable state of repair.

  • Have reasonably modern facilities and services.

  • Provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort.

Failure to meet any one of these conditions will result in the dwelling being classed as ‘non-decent’; it is of course possible for dwellings to fail on more than one condition.

About British Gas

British Gas is Britain’s leading energy supplier and energy services company serving half the homes in Britain. British Gas sells energy to around ten million homes and last year it serviced and fixed 7 million boilers and installed over 100,000 new energy efficient heating systems. British Gas is also one of the largest installers of energy efficiency products and last year installed over 400,000 insulation measures in its customers’ homes helping save energy and money. For more information visit http://www.britishgas.co.uk/