Some 15% of poorer homes in London are costing the NHS millions per year because of low quality housing stock , according to new research.
Health and safety standards in the capital’s poor quality housing is so dire it is causing problems such as respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, along with rising numbers of falls among older people, a new BRE Trust study claims.
With a recognised link between poor housing and poor health, the research estimates that reducing the worst health hazards in these properties could save the NHS as much as £140 million annually.
Results of the research show that while there has been significant progress made in improving the energy efficiency of homes, an unacceptable number of households are likely to experience fuel poverty and overcrowding as a result of increasingly high housing costs in London.
BRE Housing & Energy Director Simon Nicol said: “The projected £56 million annual savings for the NHS could rise to over £140 million if other costs relating to living in poor housing such as lack of educational attainment, lost work days and additional energy and insurance costs are taken into account.’
The research found that there is slightly less poor housing in London than in the rest of England. This is because the capital has a higher number of homes that are purpose-built flats, which tend to be newer, more energy efficient and in better repair than other types of home across the country. But housing conditions vary considerably between and within boroughs, and there are parts of the city where conditions are significantly worse than the national and London average.
The new information is already helping local authorities to justify expenditure on housing refurbishment and target the most cost-effective improvements for vulnerable people in unhealthy housing. It also provides a valuable resource for housing managers in the public and private sector, landlords, property owners and health professionals.
Simon Nicol said: “The findings of the research will be used to present a more informed case to government for investment in housing, on the basis that it not only improves people’s health but also saves public money in the long term.”