New report launched in partnership with Public Health Wales
We have launched a report today (20 June) alongside Public Health Wales and the Building Research Establishment, which shows that poor quality housing costs the NHS in Wales more than £95m per year in treatment costs. According to the report, action to mitigate poor housing could see a return on investment within six years.
The report looks at the impact of housing quality, unsuitable homes, and homelessness on health and well-being in Wales, and identifies priority areas for action. There is strong evidence that poor housing is associated with poor physical and mental health. Figures show that 18% of homes in Wales pose an unacceptable risk to health, and poor housing costs Welsh society over £1bn a year.
Among its recommendations, the report urges action to address causes of ill-health associated with poor quality housing, such as cold and damp, and fall hazards. Priority areas include improving the heating and ventilation of homes. Upgrading homes could lead to 39% fewer hospital admissions for circulation and lung conditions, and every £1 spent on improving warmth in vulnerable households could result in a £4 return on investment. Adapting homes to suit the needs of elderly and disable people could save health and social care services £7.50 for every £1 spent.
Stuart Ropke, Chief Executive at Community Housing Cymru said:
“We have a long term ambition as a sector to build a Wales where good housing is a basic right for all, and have long argued the benefits of investment in housing for the health and wellbeing of Welsh people. This report clearly demonstrates the direct impact that poor housing has on the NHS, and we will continue to work alongside Public Health Wales to make sure that investment in housing is a priority.”
Louise Woodfine, Principal Public Health Specialist and Housing Lead for Public Health Wales, said:
“The case for investing in housing to improve health and wellbeing has never been stronger. Wales has the oldest housing stock in the UK, and proportionately the highest treatment costs associated with poor housing.
“There is a real human cost to poor housing too, with people living in the least energy efficient homes being a fifth more likely to die during winter than householders in the warmest properties. However, this means that there are real opportunities for us in Wales to make significant improvements to health and well-being by taking priority action in the housing sector.
“Our report finds that action now to improve housing quality, ensure suitable housing, and to address homelessness are most cost-effective. This needs to be supported by action to reduce housing inequality, and more closely align housing, health and social care.”
See the full report here.