Maintenance, Social Housing
In 2018, 17,000 people died because they couldn’t afford to heat their homes. And the following year, 4.1 million properties were found to fall short of the basic minimum requirements of the Decent Homes Standards.
With an aging population, many argue that these statistics will continue to rise as the UK’s housing stock steadily declines in quality. However, The Government is currently reviewing the Decent Homes Standard to understand if it is right for the social housing sector today.
Around 10 million people in England currently live in a home that presents a serious threat to their health and safety – defined by the government as ‘non-decent’.
These cold, ‘unhealthy’ homes can lead to a myriad of health complications for residents, with the annual first year treatment costs due to low-quality housing at an estimated £1.4 billion for the NHS. However, research conducted by Kings Fund discovered money spent on remediating the current UK housing stock would outweigh those costs in savings for the NHS.
With the Decent Homes Standard Review in process, there is hope on the horizon for important, tangible changes to be made in the industry to see the quality of housing improved.
A report from the Good Home Inquiry, commissioned by the Centre for Ageing Better, defines a good home as ‘safe, secure, easy to warm and cool, affordable and not damaging the life chances of its inhabitants either through its design, location or connectedness.’
While the Town and Country Planning Association’s Healthy Homes campaign recommends the Building Safety Bill be amended to cover a building’s health as well as safety. The Association is working with councils and communities to explore different ways the ‘healthy homes principles’ can be used as a framework for improving the quality of new developments in their area.
The need for tighter regulation around ‘healthy homes’ was an issue Housing, Management and Maintenance’s (HMM) survey respondents felt strongly about, with 52% believing the Decent Homes Standard needed to be enforced more strictly in the future.
HMM’s research, proudly sponsored by FireAngel, provides unique insight, interviewing 120 landlords and housing professionals, on the industry’s current position on the housing dilemma. The results of the survey have been published in Housing, Management and Maintenance’s white paper, ‘The importance of healthy homes’, revealing some incredibly interesting viewpoints.
For example, from the research, HMM identified that 89% of respondents believed healthy homes could increase tenants’ life expectancy but only 1 in 3 would describe 50% or less of their current housing stock as ‘healthy’.
In fact, almost half (47%) of respondents argued that homes have become less healthy in recent decades, with cost and a lack of Government support cited as the biggest barriers to enforcing changes.
Housing, Management and Maintenance’s white paper, ‘The importance of healthy homes’, thoroughly explores the results from the research, including common complaints, problem assessment and identifying what the key elements are that create a healthy home.