The Labour Party today announced plans to create ‘healthy homes zones’ as part of an effort to reduce housing-related health inequalities which cost the NHS over £1bn a year.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth and shadow housing secretary John Healey have launched a consultation on the opposition party’s plans to link up health and housing.
This includes proposals to set up new ‘healthy homes zones’ to target areas with the worst quality housing, with new landlord licensing powers and penalties.
The consultation will also look at plans for a new £50m Housing and Health Inequalities Fund and a national ‘healthy homes tsar’.
According to a Labour analysis, 31% of Health and Wellbeing Boards (47 of 152) have no specific section on housing or homelessness in their current Health and Wellbeing Strategy.
This is despite official guidance stating: ‘The inclusion of housing and housing circumstances, e.g. homelessness…. should inform the Health and Wellbeing Strategy and local commissioning.’
Mr Ashworth and Mr Healey said all local areas would be required to have a dedicated health and housing strategy within the first year of a Labour Government.
‘Labour in establishing the NHS 70 years ago knew of the link between health outcomes and quality of housing, indeed Nye Bevan was both Minister for Health and Housing,’ said Mr Ashworth.
‘As part of our determination to narrow health inequalities and tackle the wider social determinants of poor health, we must again more closely align health and housing policy.
‘Housing related health problems are costing the NHS an estimated £1.4bn a year and poor housing can ruins people’s lives so for Labour in Government, in the spirit of Bevan’s original vision, it will be a priority to combat housing related illness and ensure nobody’s poor home damages their health.’
Mr Healey added: ‘Housing and health were joined after the second world war because widespread slum private housing meant unsanitary conditions and poor health for millions.
‘This was Beveridge’s evil of “squalor”. We’re at risk of recreating this problem today. More people live in private rented housing now than at any time since the 1950s and hundreds of thousands of these homes are unfit to live in. The next Labour Government will act decisively to change this.’