In his letter, he highlights that as temperatures drop there will be a record number of excess winter deaths.
Those living in 'poor quality' housing will not be able to keep their homes properly ventilated, warm and dry, and this situation will only be exacerbated by the cost of living and fuel crises.
He further draws attention to the Healthy Homes and Buildings all party parliamentary group’s new campaign which aims to raise public awareness of the UK's unhealthy housing stock and how that impacts the nation's health. It calls on Government to take “a joined-up and holistic approach when dealing with the nation's housing and health and wellbeing.”
The letter says:
Dear Secretary of State
Further to the tragic death of a 2 year old boy, Awaab Ishak, which was officially attributed to the excessive damp and mould in his home, I am writing, as the Chair of the Healthy Homes and Buildings APPG, to ask you to take immediate and urgent action to ensure the nation’s homes and buildings are healthy and do not cause or exacerbate poor health and wellbeing.
It cannot be morally right for those living in one of the UK’s 2.6 million ‘poor quality’ homes to be exposed to a greater risk to their health and wellbeing or mortality.
Estimates show that poor housing costs the NHS (in 2010) an estimated to £1.4bn per year in the poorest housing in England and a shocking £2.5bn per year when considering all housing throughout the entirety of the UK.
Given unhealthy housing impacts so negatively on the nation’s economic growth, business performance, educational attainment, life chances and ability to deliver green homes, it is surely time to place healthy homes at the heart of your levelling up plans. This is something I called for in my recent Westminster Hall debate.
Health and housing are, and always have been, inextricably linked. If one thinks about defining a person’s basic needs, the right to a healthy home is surely fundamental.
Healthy homes and buildings are not simply those where there is a lack of ill health but should be homes and buildings which actually maximise the occupants physical, mental, and social wellbeing.
I fear that, as we head into winter and temperatures drop that there will be a record number of excess winter deaths.
Those living in ‘poor quality’ homes will simply not be able to keep their homes properly ventilated, warm and dry. The cost of living and cost of fuel crises will only exacerbate this dire situation. Whilst increasing the number of energy efficient homes in the UK is extremely welcome, it is only part of the solution and a more holistic and joined up approach must be adopted if we are going to ensure that existing and new homes are built to a “healthy” standard which do not cause or exacerbate poor health, wellbeing – or worse. The cost of doing nothing, as the cost-of-living rises and as temperatures drop, is simply far too great.
Our new campaign, Healthy Homes for Healthy Britain will be launched to raise public awareness of the UK’s unhealthy housing stock and how this is impacting on the nation’s health.
The Healthy Homes Healthy for Healthy Britain campaign will call on the Government to:
- Take forward the recommendations made in the Healthy Homes and Buildings APPG White Paper ‘Building Our Future: Laying the Foundations for Healthy Homes and Buildings’ and adopt a more holistic and joined-up approach to tackle the problem of unhealthy homes and buildings in Britain.
- Support Lord Crisp’s Private Member’s Healthy Homes Bill which calls for a joined up and holistic approach towards healthy homes, health, and wellbeing in the context of the Government’s Levelling Up agenda, it’s Heat and Buildings Strategy, the Decent Homes Standard Review, the Building Safety Bill, and updated planning reforms.
- Recognise the cost benefits of improving and levelling up our homes and communities to remove health inequalities and positively contribute to the climate agenda.
- Commit to bringing forward legislation which addresses the growing health problems caused or exacerbated by the UK’s unhealthy home and buildings.
- Act to reduce health inequalities and ensure Britain’s homes and buildings do not cause or exacerbate poor health and wellbeing. The cost to society – and the NHS – is too vast and it is the poorest in our society who are particularly affected.
- Enshrine a clear definition of health and wellbeing into future legislation. The Healthy Homes and Buildings APPG White Paper, referenced the World Health Organisation’s definition as: “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing”.
- Appoint a Healthy Housing Minister to oversee a holistic and joined up approach of health and housing policy
I very much hope that you will want to support our Healthy Homes for Healthy Britain Campaign and that you will accept this open invitation to address the Healthy Homes and Buildings APPG at theearliestopportunity.
I look forward to receiving a prompt response to these urgent concerns. Yours sincerely
Jim Shannon MP Chair of the HHB APP
Mary Glindon MP
Derek Thomas MP
Paul Girvan MP
Tony Lloyd MP
The Earl of Lytton
Margo Longhi MP