Times letter: The poor state of the nations housing stock
Howard Farrand (President, Chartered Institute of Housing) and Stephen Battersby (President, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health) send a letter to the Times regarding their concerns over the priority the Government has given to housing needs.
To the Editor, The Times Newspaper
We are writing to express our concern at the lack of priority given to conditions in much of the nation’s housing, particularly that in the private sector. These dwellings are expected to provide homes for decades to come but we will all pay a price for inaction. There is a need for central government and local government to recognise the importance of housing to our health and well-being and to act and prioritise accordingly. The Marmot Review highlighted the contribution of better housing can make to reducing health inequalities.
A Report from the independent Building Research Establishment (BRE) this week (The Real Cost of Poor Housing) has reported that 4.8 million homes in England (22%) have what are called category 1 hazards – where the most serious defects can lead to serious health risks, broken bones, cardio-vascular disease even death in the elderly (for example from excess cold and falls).
More than four and a quarter million of these flats and houses are in the private sector, owner occupied or rented. The BRE has estimated the cost to the NHS as £600 million per year but there are additional costs to occupants and to society amounting to £1.5 billion per year. Yet many of these hazards could be remedied for about £4,000. This is less than the cost of a hip replacement on the NHS. Investment in housing is spending to save – it can reduce demands on the NHS and make a difference to the general health of the nation.
The remedy for our sick housing will not be provided by the current housing market. We call upon the relevant government departments to make unhealthy housing a priority for action in the next parliament. We hope that this will tackle what is a national tragedy. Prevention is better and more cost effective for us all, than cure.
President, Chartered Institute of Housing
President, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health