Urgent housing investment needed to address growing health and inequality crisis
Investment in housing should be seen as a preventative measure to seriously address the growing crisis in health and inequality in Scotland, the annual Chartered Institute of Housing conference in Glasgow will hear today.
Speaking at the conference in his capacity as the chair of the Housing and Wellbeing Commission, former Auditor General for Scotland Robert Black said significant savings to future health service, social care services, homelessness and other budgets can be made if Scotland invests in housing now.
It is estimated that each incident of repeat homelessness costs upwards of £15,000. Recent attempts in England to quantify the monetary costs of poor housing have estimated at least £600 million per year to the NHS in England.
According to the Commission, over one in ten households (around 13 per cent) in Scotland are affected by dampness or condensation (or both) while 940,000 households (39 per cent of all households) are in fuel poverty.
A total of 43 per cent of Scotland’s social housing currently falls beneath the Scottish Housing Quality Standard.
73,000 households (3 per cent) are overcrowded in Scotland and there are over 4,500 homeless children in Scotland living in temporary accommodation.
Speaking ahead of the conference, Robert Black said: “Our society faces major challenges in responding to the consequences of a chronic housing crisis now and in the future.
“We are in danger of losing sight of the importance housing plays in the wellbeing of everyone that lives in Scotland. Poor housing can have a significant impact on health, education, employability and life chances.
“Today, a serious lack of affordable housing and poor quality housing continues to damage the health and life chances of thousands of families and individuals in Scotland. To avoid a health and inequality time bomb, Scotland must build more homes and improve the quality of existing stock. Only then can it ensure the wellbeing of its people.”
Robert Black added: “The impact bad housing is having on the next generation has the potential to devastate lives. But equally, the rapidly growing population of older people, which is already placing significant demands on the NHS and other services, need resources and preventative housing services to ensure they can stay in their homes for as long as they need.
“Investment in housing is investment in people and the future prosperity of Scotland.”
The independent Commission, which has been set up by Shelter Scotland, will present a report in June with a review national housing priorities and policies. The Commission will make suggestions about how to sustain and improve the wellbeing of all people living in Scotland through policies and programs for housing which reinforce the importance of good housing in building strong local communities.