Past, present and future: housing policy and poor-quality homes report image

A lack of effective and sustained government action and funding is partly to blame for a crisis in the quality of England’s homes, according to a new report commissioned to inform the Good Home Inquiry and written by the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence.

Entitled ‘Past, present and future: housing policy and poor-quality homes’, the report finds that while the UK Government has a crucial role in protecting the nation’s housing stock, dramatic funding cuts and failure to act have left England’s homes crumbling.

Today, an estimated ten million people in England are at risk because they live in a home that doesn’t meet basic standards, according to the Centre for Ageing Better, with the majority of these homes posing a serious risk to their inhabitants’ health or safety.

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Previous research by the Centre for Ageing Better and the King’s Fund highlighted the link between poor-quality housing and COVID-19, with those who are most at risk of the disease more likely to be living in non-decent homes.

While recent governments have invested heavily in subsiding new housing development, England’s existing housing stock has been largely ignored and those at greatest risk have suffered the most, exacerbating inequalities.

The new report warns cutting funding to the national framework for housing improvement is a false economy, leading to greater pressure and spending on health and social care and undermining efforts to meet carbon reduction targets and tackle the climate emergency. The report authors provide a comprehensive assessment of past policy and the evidence for future action.

Consequently, the report is now calling for a coordinated national strategy to reinstate enforcement of housing standards, the development of local hubs to coordinate holistic home improvement and retrofit, and long-term national funding for locally delivered improvements to the quality of homes for the benefit of current and future generations.

David Orr, Chair of the Good Home Inquiry, said: “It’s clear that we are facing a serious crisis in the quality of England’s housing stock, the oldest in Europe, with around ten million people living in homes that don’t meet basic standards of decency.

“This report shows that while in theory there is a national framework in place to keep homes up to a decent standard, a lack of action and funding has let this fall by the wayside.

“As the government moves forward with its ambition to decarbonise homes, attempting to address energy efficiency in isolation would be a big mistake. Instead, all the elements of a good home should be addressed through a holistic retrofit strategy.

“The government must ensure that improving England’s housing stock is part of a co-ordinated effort to improve the quality of all our homes– so that no-one is forced to live in a house that is cold, damp or inaccessible.”

The Good Home Inquiry, commissioned by the Centre for Ageing Better, is an inquiry into England’s housing policies to determine causes of, and solutions to, the country’s current housing crisis.

Although sponsored by Ageing Better, the inquiry will be led by an independent panel and chaired by David Orr. The inquiry supports Ageing Better’s goal of reducing the number of homes classed as ‘non-decent’ by at least one million by 2030.

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