This report, and the work undertaken to gather the supporting information within, was prepared and developed prior to COVID-19. Unfortunately, as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the publication and launch of the report was delayed until October 2020.
The pandemic has resulted in a significant impact on the housing sector. In August 2020, the Health Foundation reported that the impact of housing on health is likely to have been greater than ever during the lockdown period. They reference research published by the National Housing Federation from June 2020 which indicates 31% of Adults in the UK had experienced mental or physical health problems linked to the condition of their home or their lack of space.
Community resilience virtual events
Unlocking the potential of housing for health
Devolution in West Yorkshire presents an unprecedented opportunity for housing associations to work in partnership together and with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and local authorities to achieve shared goals.
We want to create sustainable housing and health partnerships across West Yorkshire and Harrogate. We know that there are a lot of great partnerships already taking place across the area in Bradford District and Craven; Calderdale, Harrogate, Leeds and of course in Kirklees and Wakefield and we are keen to share good practice and replicate approaches to build and strengthen joined up services.
The West Yorkshire Housing Partnership has published a new (Sept 2020) prospectus, Housing Associations, Devolution and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority for partnership and action to deliver homes and support neighbourhoods, inclusion, growth and sustainability.
Housing and Health is part of the Partnership's Improving Population Health Programme, led by Robin Tuddenham and James Thomas. Robin is Chief Executive of Calderdale Council and Accountable Officer for NHS Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). James is a GP and is Clinical Chair of NHS Bradford District and Craven CCG and Co-Chair of the Partnership's Clinical Forum. Sarah Smith is the Improving Population Health Programme Director and a Public Health Consultant.
Sarah Roxby from WDH is the Health and Housing Strategic Lead. Her role is to facilitate the sharing of good practice whilst bringing housing partners to the table with new ideas and together with colleagues, works to harness the potential of all our housing partners across the whole of the area.
It is now widely recognised that the right home environment is essential to health and wellbeing; good quality housing is critical to a healthy community. The availability of affordable healthy food is often determined by where people live, and these factors help enable people to manage their wellbeing better.
The Kings Fund produced a report in 2018 ‘Housing and Health Opportunities for Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships’ urging Partnerships such as ours in West Yorkshire and Harrogate to work more closely with the housing sector.
Many reports highlight the important role of housing in improving health and wellbeing. It is widely evident that addressing wider determinants of health can result in a positive impact on the demand for health and care services – whilst most importantly improving people’s wellbeing.
Safe and warm housing is a fundamental basic need. A good quality affordable home that is tailored to the needs of households is important for everyone’s wellbeing.
Worryingly a report produced by the Northern Housing Consortium identifies that sub-standard private housing is a major problem in the North. Yet the issue is overlooked and rarely discussed. Nearly 1m owner-occupied homes in the North fail to meet the decent homes standard in addition to 354,000 private rented homes.
We also know that fuel poverty is on the rise. For example in Wakefield alone there are 15,000 households, or 10% living with fuel costs which put their income below the poverty line. It can also mean that people have to face a difficult choice between heating and eating.
Poor housing and the impact on health is one area we have pledged to tackle together across West Yorkshire and Harrogate; it costs the NHS £1.4bn a year but by reducing excess cold to an acceptable level, we could save £848m nationally, more importantly we could improve people’s lives.
Housing advice and support at an early stage in a person’s health journey can support the reduction of unnecessary days spent in hospital. Poor housing health also has a huge impact on hospitals nationally which report a yearly 110,000 bed days lost to the NHS due to delayed discharges from hospital due to a housing related issue.
We believe very strongly in the importance of housing in delivering better health outcomes and this cannot be overplayed. Spreading good good areas of work taking place across West Yorkshire and Harrogate is key to our Partnership ambitions – better health and care for everyone, everywhere.