Louis 's friends
Health and Housing - a wake up for policy makers
posted on Monday, March 08, 2010 02:35 PM
LRS has been represented at several events this month where discussions centred on the link between housing and health. This is finally being recognised at a strategic level with the publication of three high level reports: the Audit Commission report 'Under Pressure', the Marmot Review 'Fair Society, Healthy Lives' and the Building Research Establishment (BRE) report 'The real cost of poor housing in England' (see links below). These reports recognise that housing is a key determinant of health and argue that, with an ageing population, we have to do more to ensure a healthy population and reduce the effects of poor housing on NHS costs. The BRE report shows that more than four million seriously unhealthy homes exist in the private sector and these cost the NHS £600 million a year and society as a whole £1.5 billion.
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) president Dr Stephen Battersby said 'At a time when resources in the public sector will be restricted it is important that all possible sources of funding are used as efficiently as possible with resources shared to better address the impact of poor housing on health'.
Howard Farrand, President of the Chartered Institute for Housing (CIH), has written to the Times, saying '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'.
London Rebuilding Society welcomes these reports as they highlight not only the role of housing as a key determinant of health, education and general well-being but also the benefits to the public purse and environment of addressing housing problems through a multi-agency appoach (such as that piloted by the London Rebuilding Society Home Improvement Scheme).
Policy makers must not become daunted by the size of the challenge facing them. Organisations such as London Rebuilding Society are providing working, practical solutions to housing problems. These reports have provided a wake up call for policy makers, it is now time for them to roll up their sleeves and get on with the task ahead...