accessible housing ima

Launched today, a new Inquiry into England’s homes will explore why many homes are in poor condition, hazardous to health and unsuitable for people who are older and disabled – and how to raise standards.

Aiming to change the face of England’s housing, the Good Home Inquiry is sponsored by the Centre for Ageing Better and will be chaired by David Orr CBE, former Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation and Chair of Clarion Housing Association.

The inquiry will take a fresh look at how to tackle England’s housing crisis, improve the quality of homes and respond to the rapidly changing age profile of the population.

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Recommendations will be targeted at policymakers as well as housing providers, homeowners, landlords, and others aimed at making it easier to upgrade, maintain and improve homes across the country, as well as to build good-quality homes that are fit for the future.

The launch of the inquiry comes as new data from social researchers NatCen suggests that around 1.8 million adults in England are living in damp and/or cold housing, with more than one in ten of these residents having a heart or respiratory condition which could have been caused or made worse by their poor living conditions.

This puts them in the government’s ‘at risk’ category for COVID-19, making them clinically vulnerable to the disease. Of these people, 53 percent are aged over 50.

David Orr, Chair of the Inquiry, said: “Too many people in the UK are living in homes that are unsuitable for their needs and dangerous to their health. For decades, poor housing policies have created this crisis where there is a lack of decent, accessible and affordable housing in this country.

“With an ageing population, our homes need to be accessible and suitable for all ages and abilities. This inquiry will be a driver for change and action to ensure our homes are high quality, affordable and safe.”

Additionally, analysis by the Centre for Ageing Better shows that more than 4.3 million homes in England – lived in by around 10 million people – don’t meet basic standards of decency, most commonly because of the presence of a serious hazard to their occupants’ health or safety.

Figures from the English Housing Survey further paint a picture of England’s run-down homes, with one in ten over-60s who live alone saying they struggle to heat their homes.

According to the Centre for Ageing Better, England’s homes are also “overwhelmingly” unsuitable for older people with mobility issues and disabled people, recent data shows, with just 10 percent of England’s housing stock meeting basic standards of accessibility.

The Good Home Inquiry is expected to report initial ideas for policy reforms early next year, underpinned by major research into past and present national housing policies, as well as research to understand the experiences of people living in poor-quality housing.

It will cover mainstream housing for all age groups and tenure types, with a particular focus on housing quality. One of the inquiry’s aims will be to move away from the current government definition of a ‘decent home’ and instead work towards creating a definition for a ‘good home’.

The Good Home Inquiry supports Ageing Better’s goal of reducing the number of homes classed as ‘non-decent’ by at least one million by 2030, as well as the Centre’s aims to improve the quality of England’s housing stock so that every person may live in a home that is safe, accessible and does not pose a risk to their mental or physical health.

Improved housing policies and targeted spending could greatly reduce the number of people living in non-decent homes and the associated costs to the NHS in caring for people with ill-health related to poor housing.

Anna Dixon, Chief Executive of the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “As the data shows, this inquiry couldn’t have come sooner. Our homes are vital to our wellbeing and quality of life yet far too many of us are living in homes unsuitable to our needs and potentially damaging to our health – this needs to change.

“The Good Home Inquiry will be doing vital work examining how past and current policies have caused the current housing crisis and will push for change and action to ensure more people live in a safe and accessible home in future.”

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