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Poor UK Housing costs the NHS dear

new report shows a link between poor housing and health.

Poor housing costs the NHS more than £2bn a year in treating people suffering from a wide range of illnesses linked directly to living in cold, damp and often dangerous homes, according to a new study…

The research, commissioned by the National Housing Federation, also reveals the cost to the public purse of police responses to crimes associated with substandard housing as being around £1.8bn a year.

Overcrowded homes meanwhile severely damage children’s chances of doing well at school – fuelling a cycle of poverty in poorer communities, the study by research group Ecotec found.

A record 4.5m people are on housing waiting lists in England, and rising unemployment and repossessions has further fuelled demand for affordable housing during the economic downturn.

The number of families living in overcrowded housing has reached epidemic proportions in many cities, with around 2.5m people living in cramped and unsuitable conditions.

The report, entitled The Social Impact of Poor Housing, provides an analysis of numerous research projects and studies into the impact of low quality housing.

It finds strong links between poor housing and health problems, low educational attainment and an ‘association’ with crime and reoffending.

People living in homes that are cold, damp and affected by mould are far more likely to get ill, while those classed as officially homeless and living in temporary accommodation appeared to suffer from a higher incidence of sickness.

Homeless children were four times more likely to suffer from respiratory infections, five times as many stomach infections and made twice as many emergency hospital visits, six times as many speech and stammering problems and four times the rate of asthma compared to permanently housed children, a previous study found

The economic cost of treating people suffering illnesses where poor housing was identified as the prime causal factor was £2.5bn a year, the report concluded.

Children living in poorer areas underperformed at all key stages of school compared to their classmates from wealthier areas. Only 25% of the young people in the most deprived areas achieve five or more GCSEs at A* to C, including English and Maths, compared to 68.4% in the least deprived.

Children living in temporary housing are likely to miss school on a frequently basis – taking 55 school days off on average.

Purely based on the difference in GCSE results, the report estimates the amount in lost earnings for the current generation of children growing up in poor housing is £14.8bn.

Although the link between crime and poor housing is less clear cut, there is evidence of an ‘association’ between the two.

The report pointed to a Youth Justice Board study which found individuals with housing problems were ‘more liable’ to reconviction than those without this difficulty.

And prisoners released from custody into settled accommodation had a 20% better chance of reducing their rate of reconviction compared to those discharged without somewhere to live. Significantly more people commit offences after they become homeless, the study also found.

The cost to the criminal justice system, excluding court costs, associated with poor housing, comes to £1.8bn a year, the report’s authors’ claim in terms of basic police responses to crimes, burglary and criminal damage.

‘With record housing waiting lists and overcrowding reaching epidemic proportions in many places across the country, the need for more affordable housing has never been greater.

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As landlords, we have a responsibility to ensure that properties we rent out are fit for purpose. However, we need government to realise that we private sector landlords are partners with them in providing the much needed homes that people need. We should be recognised as businesses, and treated accordingly. Dear gofmint, don’t regulate us to death-weilding the hammer of regulation based on every whinge and/or moan by a disgruntled minority is not the answer-the result of such actions is the new HMO planning regulations hastily brought in by the outgoing goofment. I have experienced the effect first hand already.

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