Even though building new homes is high on the housing policy agenda, the condition of the housing that already exists hardly gets a mention.
It seems self evident to many of us that a warm, safe, decent home is a necessity for good health, particularly in later life when we spend more time in that home. So why so little attention?
It almost seems as if some sort of roof over your head is ‘good enough’ – to ask for that home to be a healthy, good place to live is expecting too much.
The NHS is facing unprecedented demands. Older people are more likely to live with the chronic health conditions which can be exacerbated by poor housing. So again, isn’t it obvious that better housing could reduce health service pressures?
We even have a cost savings figure. A report by the BRE The cost of poor housing to the NHS (Nicol et al (2014)) estimates that poor housing in England costs the NHS in excess of £1.4 billion a year.
Care & Repair England’s latest report Off the Radar: Housing disrepair & health impact in later life uses new data analysis (thanks to data supplied by the BRE) of the incidence of poor housing, alongside the age, health and tenure of the occupant.
There is a compelling case for action to reduce health hazards in ordinary, private housing, given that 79% of older people who live in non-decent homes are owner occupiers.
Definitely an opportune moment for Health and Well Being Boards to take a lead on this issue at a local level, as well as time to put housing stock condition back ‘On the Radar’ of national government policy. [March 2016]