non-decent housing

A new report examining the extent of non-decent housing in England reveals that over two million over-55s are living in homes that endanger their health and wellbeing.

Co-authored by the Centre for Ageing Better and Care & Repair England, the ‘Home and dry: The need for decent homes in later life’ report suggests that 4.3 million homes in England do not meet basic standards of decency, most commonly because of the presence of a serious hazard to their occupants’ health or safety.

Using analysis of data from the 2017 English Housing Survey, the new study indicates that households heading by someone over 75 are disproportionately likely to be living in a non-decent home, with the problem growing for this demographic.

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According to the report, two million households headed by those over 65 find it difficult to heat their homes.

The largest number of non-decent homes is among owner-occupiers, says the findings, with many facing financial or practical barriers to maintaining their home.

In the private rented, 20 per cent of all homes are determined to be no-decent.

non-decent housing over 75

“A safe, accessible and warm home helps to enable our participation in society, providing a stable and safe environment for us to flourish,” commented Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive at Public Health England.

“In contrast, a cold, hazardous home is a serious risk to a person’s health and can cause or worsen a large number of health conditions such as arthritis, respiratory or mental health illness, as well as increasing the risk of a stroke or heart attack.”

Declaring the situation a “national scandal,” the two charities are urging the government to take immediate action to address the level of poor housing which the Centre for Ageing Better and Care & Repair England point out is increasing pressure on the NHS.

The NHS spends an estimated £513 million on first-year treatment costs alone for over 55s living in the poorest housing, notes the report.

One of the major causes of death and injury amongst older people are falls in the home, while cold homes exacerbate a range of health problems including arthritis, COPD, and asthma, and increase the risk of an acute episode like a stroke or heart attack.

non-decent housing percentage income

Anna Dixon, Chief Executive at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “Our report today shows the shocking scale of non-decent housing across England, with too many people in later life unable to afford or manage the vital repairs and maintenance their homes need. The result is millions of people living in conditions that put their health or safety at risk – it’s a national scandal.

“But our report also shows that this situation is far from inevitable. The average cost to bring a non-decent home up to a decent standard is estimated to be under £3,000, and a third of these homes could be repaired for less than £1,000. And yet the funding that used to be dedicated to addressing this issue has been withdrawn in recent years.”

The Centre for Ageing Better and Care & Repair England are now calling on the new government to place this issue at the top of their agenda and act urgently to focus government housing policy on the people and places most at risk.

“An investment of £4.3 billion to repair hazards for households over 55 would be paid back in just eight years through savings to the NHS – not to mention the difference this would make to millions of people’s quality of life,” added Dixon.

non-decent housing owner occupied

“Ensuring that everyone is able to live in a safe, decent home now and in the future must be central to the government’s housing policy.”

Recently, the Department of Health and Social Care announced that it would maintain the level of Disabled Facilities Grant funding for 2020/21 at £505million following a letter to Matt Hancock from the Home Adaptations Consortium requesting an increase to meet the increasing demand for adaptations to make homes safe and accessible.

Sue Adams, Chief Executive at Care & Repair England, finished: “Older people across the country tell us how important their homes are to their health and quality of life. Concerted action to make those homes safe, warm, decent places to live is a win-win solution.

“Everyone gains – the NHS cuts costs, the national housing stock is protected and individuals have improved lives.”

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