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News Update from BRE’s Housing and Health Team – April 2019

Care and Repair England

BRE’s Helen Garrett was invited to attend a CRE Older People’s Housing Champions Network meeting where she:

  • shared knowledge on the nature and scale of the types of unsuitable housing, with a focus on older home owners and disrepair in their homes
  • explored the prevalence of non-decent homes and the reasons for non-decency among older households across all tenures
  • examined national and local data sources on housing quality indicators
  • discussed the BRE toolkits/models available to local authorities for more localised analysis and how these could be used to identify the prevalence of poorer housing among older households.

Care and Repair England (CRE) established its Older People’s Housing Champions Network to:

  • raise awareness of the scale and nature of the impact of poor and unsuitable housing on older people’s health and well-being,
  • bring about improvements in housing and ageing related policy as a result.

Sue Adams OBE, Chief Executive of CRE said,

“This presentation was so incredibly helpful to both Care & Repair England and the local Older People’s Housing Champions efforts to raise the profile of the need to address housing disrepair amongst the older population, plus the negative consequences e.g. to NHS, if we fail to do this.

The data analysis by BRE, and the English Housing Survey (EHS) data in particular, underpins so much of what we do and is our single most important evidence source. As a result of the presentation the Champions could very clearly see the value of a local in-depth analysis to inform decision making in their areas”.

HSCD Online maps, XCC and HHCC webinar

We are about to launch the new HSCD online map feature and we are very excited to be able to show you a preview during our next free webinar “HSCD online maps, XCC and HHCC”.

This new feature allows HSCD users to visualise their data at different geographical levels and for different property indicators against the Google Map background which we are all so familiar with. We are confident this feature will make the work of our customers easier when investigating and planning improvements in their housing stock.

During the webinar we will also be demonstrating BRE’s XCC (Excess Cold Calculator) and HHCC (Housing Health Cost Calculator) tools. The XCC assists in the assessment of the Excess Cold hazard in dwellings, while the HHCC details cost savings to the NHS and wider society achieved by enforcement and improvement strategies – and allows these to be authoritatively demonstrated.

Register here to join the webinar and we look forward to seeing you there!

English Housing Surveyor – surveyor training

Seven BRE specialist staff have spent much of this March helping to brief the 150 surveyors at the annual English Housing Survey (EHS) training. The EHS is commissioned by central government (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government) and is a continuous survey comprising 6,200 property surveys every year. The findings influence government policy and strategy – for example on energy efficiency, adaptations for disabled people, meeting the needs of an ageing population, house building etc. There is a lot of information available on the government website about this important work: Findings from the EHS are used to inform BRE’s housing stock models so quality control of data is vitally important.

The cost of poor housing in Wales

With the findings from the Welsh House Condition Survey recently published (Welsh Government 2018), BRE has updated its original ’Cost of Poor Housing in Wales’ analysis. Using the latest profiles of housing conditions across Wales and updating the methodology in line with the more recent ‘Full Cost of Poor Housing’ report to reflect improved understanding of poor housing impacts, it is estimated that poor quality housing in Wales costs the NHS more than £95m per year. This represents first year treatment costs relating to illness and accidents caused by issues such as poor heating and dangerous stairs. Looking more widely at the costs to society as a whole, which takes into account the wider impacts of housing related illnesses and injuries, such as distress, reduced economic potential, life-long care and increased burden on welfare finances, the full cost of poor housing in Wales is over £1bn. The analysis estimates that the cost to mitigate poor housing, for example carrying out repairs or improvements to reduce falls and cold hazards, would be £584m, if it was available to be spent now. Funding the removal of hazards in the home therefore offers a payback period of 6 years where immediate health savings are considered, or just over 6 months where societal savings are included. This return on investment, however, varies depending on the intervention.

Rogue Landlords

BRE have been commissioned by four separate local authorities to carry out projects funded by the Rogue Landlord Enforcement Grant. The work commissioned includes two projects with a particular focus on the identification of private rented sector dwellings whose landlords do not readily engage with the authority. At the time of writing the four projects are nearing completion having been delivered against the very tight timescales required by the MHCLG (Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government) funded grants. More information on these exciting projects will be provided in our next newsletter.

World Health Organisation – Housing and Health Guidelines

Drawing on a broad range of newly commissioned or recently published systematic reviews, high quality evidence has been identified to develop recommendations in WHO’s recently published Housing and Health Guidelines. The guidelines aim at informing housing policies and regulations at the national, regional and local level on the impact of housing on health, summarising:

“Structurally deficient housing increases the likelihood that people slip or fall, increasing the risk of injury. Poor accessibility to their house puts disabled and elderly people at risk of injury, stress and isolation. Housing that is insecure, sometimes due to affordability issues or weak security of tenure, is stressful. Housing that is difficult or expensive to heat contributes to poor respiratory and cardiovascular outcomes, while high indoor temperatures can cause heat related illnesses and increase cardiovascular mortality. Indoor air pollution is connected to a wide range of noncommunicable disease outcomes, harms respiratory and cardiovascular health, and may trigger allergic and irritant reactions, such as asthma. Crowded housing increases the risk of exposure to infectious disease. Inadequate water supply and sanitation facilities affect food safety and personal hygiene, and therefore lead to the development of communicable diseases.” (page xv)

In reviewing the evidence on the economic considerations for improving housing conditions, it cites BRE’s ‘Real Cost of Poor Housing’ work, estimating the costs and savings to society by removing housing hazards from the English housing stock.

Index of Multiple Deprivation (OCSI)

BRE Housing and Health Team have been appointed by OCSI (Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion) and to update the Housing in Poor Condition indicator for the Index of Multiple Deprivation on behalf of MHCLG (Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government).  The team provided the previous indicator used in the IoD 2015 based on the Decent Homes standard.  Data from the most recent English Housing Survey will be incorporated following the same methodology to update the indicator. Information will be provided to Lower-layer Super Output Area.

Finally – Keep in Touch

We want to keep you updated on what’s new in the world of housing and health, as well as provide an insight into some of the work our customers have been doing. Please go to our online preference centre and opt-in to receive regular communications from BRE – if you select to receive the monthly BRE e-news we will include a quarterly reminder for the publication of this news update on BRE Buzz. Additionally, if you have specific queries please e-mail us at HousingAnd[email protected] and for more information on our services go to