Inquiry into condition of England’s homes launched

An inquiry has launched into the state of England’s homes – analysing why some are in poor condition and exploring how to raise standards.

The Good Home Inquiry, sponsored by the Centre for Ageing Better, will be chaired by David Orr, former chief executive of the National Housing Federation and chair of Clarion Housing Association.

Recommendations will be targeted not just at policy makers but also at housing providers, homeowners, landlords, and others aimed at making it easier to upgrade, maintain and improve homes across the country, as well as to build good-quality homes that are fit for the future.

David Orr, chair of the Inquiry, said: “Too many people in the UK are living in homes that are unsuitable for their needs and dangerous to their health. For decades, poor housing policies have created this crisis where there is a lack of decent, accessible and affordable housing in this country.

“With an ageing population, our homes need to be accessible and suitable for all ages and abilities.

“This inquiry will be a driver for change and action to ensure our homes are high quality, affordable and safe.”

Data from social researcher NatCen suggested that around 1.8 million adults in England are living in damp and/or cold housing, with more than one in 10 (13%) of these residents having a heart or respiratory condition which could have been caused or made worse by their poor living conditions.

This puts them in the government’s ‘at risk’ category for COVID-19, making them clinically vulnerable to the disease. Of these people, half (53%) are aged over 50.

Meanwhile analysis by the Centre for Ageing Better shows that more than 4.3 million homes in England, lived in by around 10 million people, don’t meet basic standards of decency, most commonly because of the presence of a serious hazard to their occupants’ health or safety.

England’s homes are also overwhelmingly unsuitable for older people with mobility issues and disabled people, recent data shows, with just 10% of England’s housing stock meeting basic standards of accessibility.

Anna Dixon, chief executive of Centre for Ageing Better, said: “As the data shows, this inquiry couldn’t have come sooner.

“Our homes are vital to our wellbeing and quality of life yet far too many of us are living in homes unsuitable to our needs and potentially damaging to our health – this needs to change.

“The Good Home Inquiry will be doing vital work examining how past and current policies have caused the current housing crisis and will push for change and action to ensure more people live in a safe and accessible home in future.”