Letter: Decline in number of unfit dwellings

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is disappointing that your report of 22 June, on the Preliminary Report of the latest English House Condition Survey ('Not fit to live in'), gave a misleading impression about the change in the condition of the English housing stock between 1986 and 1991, by failing to take account of the introduction in 1990 of a new higher fitness standard.

What the English House Condition Survey 1991 actually shows is that there was a welcome decline in the number of unfit dwellings between 1986 and 1991, whether measured against the fitness standard in force in 1986 or against the standard introduced in 1990 under the Local Government and Housing Act 1989.

Under the old standard, 753,000 dwellings were unfit in 1991 compared with 909,000 in 1986; under the new standard, 1.456 million dwellings were unfit in 1991 compared with 1.643 million in 1986.

The real picture is of improvement in housing conditions. This is good news and should be reported as such.

Yours faithfully,


Under-Secretary of State

Department of the Environment

London, SW1

23 June