As many as 10 million people will spend winter in homes the government deems ‘non-decent’, according to figures from the Centre for Ageing Better and Care & Repair England released today.
Most people who live in non-decent housing are part of a vulnerable group of some kind. Between 2012 and 2017 the number of over-75s in such accommodation rose disproportionately from 533,000 to 701,000.
A serious hazard in the home like cold temperature or a trip risk are the major reasons the government deem a home non-decent. More than a million over-55s live in homes with such problems.
This crisis is estimated to cost the NHS as much as £1.4billion a year.
The problem, the groups suggest, is the cause of changes to national housing policy and financial products in the 1970s and 80s. Houses that were affordable to buy then now prove expensive to maintain, especially for owners on limited pensions.
Additionally, funding to combat the problem has been withdrawn under recent governments.
Anna Dixon, Chief Executive, Centre for Ageing Better, said: “These truly shocking figures should be a wake-up call to us all. In the twenty-first century, nobody should be living in a home that puts them at risk of a dangerous fall, or is so damp it gives them breathing problems. And yet today millions across the country are living in these appalling conditions.
“The progress made in improving the condition of our homes over the last fifty years has stalled – and in some cases even seems to be in reverse. Sadly, the number of households over 75 living in a non-decent home has risen since 2012.
“The cost to the NHS of poor housing is staggering – but the human cost is incalculable. Unless we start to see real leadership on this issue from government and the housing sector, millions more lives will be blighted by poor housing.”