Half Of Non-Decent Homes Placing Elderly At Risk

Over two million people aged over 55-years are currently living in sub-standard homes.

According to the ‘Home and Dry’ report, carried out by the Centre for Ageing Better and Care & Repair England, 4.3 million homes do not meet ‘basic standards of decency’ because of ‘serious hazards’ which can affect an occupant’s health and well-being.

Despite evidence highlighting a link between poor homes and poor health, the report found that over 10 million people are at risk because of poor-quality homes, the equivalent of 4.3 million homes.

Over three quarters of this total contain at least one vulnerable person with almost half of the poor housing stock occupied by a person over 55-years-old and a quarter containing at least one child.

The report found that households with occupants over 75 are ‘disproportionately’ likely to be considered non-decent.

Overall, two million households owned or occupied by people over the age of 65 are difficult to heat and have serious hazards.

Owner-occupiers had the largest number of non-decent homes with over a fifth of privately rented homes also considered non-decent. Financial barriers and an inability to complete the work physically were attributed as the main reasons hindering the homeowners from making the necessary improvements.

On average, the report estimated that improvements would cost £3,000 to bring the non-decent homes up to an adequate standard.

A cost the Ageing Better and Care & Repair England claim would be a welcome investment in helping improve the lives of older people, an investment to lower NHS costs and an investment which would upgrade and maintain the much-needed housing stock before it deteriorates further.

The group is urging the government to make these improvements an urgent priority to help ensure home owners improve their quality of life and improve the housing stock which was referred to as ‘a national scandal.’

Dr Anna Dixon, Chief Executive at the Centre for Ageing Better, said:

“Our report today shows the shocking scale of non-decent housing across England, with too many people in later life unable to afford or manage the vital repairs and maintenance their homes need. The result is millions of people living in conditions that put their health or safety at risk – it’s a national scandal.

“But our report also shows that this situation is far from inevitable. The average cost to bring a non-decent home up to a decent standard is estimated to be under £3,000, and a third of these homes could be repaired for less than £1,000. And yet the funding that used to be dedicated to addressing this issue has been withdrawn in recent years.

“An investment of £4.3 billion to repair hazards for households over 55 would be paid back in just eight years through savings to the NHS – not to mention the difference this would make to millions of people’s quality of life. Ensuring that everyone is able to live in a safe, decent home now and in the future must be central to the government’s housing policy.”

Sue Adams, Chief Executive at Care & Repair England, said:

“Older people across the country tell us how important their homes are to their health and quality of life. Concerted action to make those homes safe, warm, decent places to live is a win-win solution.

“Everyone gains – the NHS cuts costs, the national housing stock is protected and individuals have improved lives.”

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive at Publid Health England, said:

“A safe, accessible and warm home helps to enable our participation in society, providing a stable and safe environment for us to flourish.

“In contrast, a cold, hazardous home is a serious risk to a person’s health and can cause or worsen a large number of health conditions such as arthritis, respiratory or mental health illness, as well as increasing the risk of a stroke or heart attack.

“The implications are wide-ranging: from life-changing and potentially fatal consequences for the people living in these conditions to ongoing, avoidable demand on the NHS and other public services.”

Claire Singleton, CEO, Legal & General Home Finance comments on the report:

“This report highlights some very legitimate concerns about ensuring housing is suitable for the needs of older people. For those in later life, their home is often their greatest asset, but many are living in conditions where their homes are no longer fit for purpose. The value tied up in people’s homes can offer a solution for this, as they have the ideal resource to make the relevant improvements by releasing equity from their home.

“I would encourage homeowners and their families in this situation to assess the type of changes that are needed to make their homes suitable for later life and recommend consulting a specialist financial adviser to assist them through this.”

Should the government ensure non-decent housing stock is improved?

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