Fixing poor-quality housing: Public backs creation of local home improvement hubs
With over four million poor-quality homes in England, over half of which are lived in by older people, this new research finds that local hubs have been backed by the public as a way to help address poor housing.
The report highlights that solutions are urgently needed to fix the nation’s housing stock, which is needlessly putting people’s lives at risk.
The idea of a ‘one stop shop’ local housing hub that provides people with information and advice on how to make home repairs and improvements has received backing from the public in new research.
Co-commissioned by the Centre for Ageing Better and UK Research and Innovation’s Sciencewise programme for the Good Home Inquiry, the project conducted by BritainThinks brought together 89 people experiencing problems with their homes, including private renters, people in social rented homes, and homeowners, alongside housing experts and policymakers.
In the dialogue workshops, participants discussed the issues they had experienced with their homes, such as damp and cold, overcrowding, and accessibility issues, before hearing evidence from and asking questions of specialists and decision-makers, and discussing potential solutions.
Sharing the reasons they hadn’t made improvements to their homes, participants cited not having enough money and not feeling able or confident enough to get the work done. This was particularly true of older or disabled participants and people with health problems, as well as people who had suffered a bereavement. Many participants said organising repairs or improvements and finding trustworthy tradespeople to carry out the works felt overwhelming.
The idea of hubs that would provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ offering a range of different services around repairing homes, was a popular solution put forward by participants. The hubs, they suggested, could provide information and advice, access to finance options, and help to find trusted tradespeople to carry out the work.
Participants also called for greater regulation of rental properties in poor condition, and targeted investment from government in parts of the country with large numbers of poor-quality homes to help residents finance improvements.
With more than four million poor-quality homes in England putting an estimated ten million people at risk, solutions are urgently needed, according to the Good Home Inquiry. The pandemic has shone a light on poor-quality homes and its effects on health, with those most vulnerable to COVID-19 often being also the same people living in homes that don’t meet basic standards of decency. Namely older people, those with existing health conditions, people on lower incomes and those from ethnic minority groups.
Our substandard housing is also a major barrier when it comes to tackling the other great challenge of our times: climate change. The poor quality of our homes has had, and continues to have, a hugely damaging impact on the climate.
The Good Home Inquiry is an evidence-based analysis of England’s housing policies to determine the causes of, and solutions to, the poor quality of so much of our housing. It will use the findings of the public dialogue to inform the recommendations on how to improve the quality of England’s homes which will be outlined in its final report published in September.
David Orr CBE, Chair of the Good Home Inquiry, said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic showed just how important a good home is – and how millions of people’s health and wellbeing is suffering because they live in unsuitable or poor-quality housing. The homes we live in have a profound impact on our health.
“If this were a new problem, we would be horrified. We would have urgent cabinet meetings, action plans, and huge amounts of money thrown at solving it. But because we’ve had these problems for years, we’ve become blind to the scale and urgency of them.
“This research allowed us to hear directly from people experiencing problems with their homes and understand the challenges they face which prevent them from making improvements or repairs.
“With millions currently living in homes that put their health at risk, we need to see urgent immediate and long-term action from government to address our poor-housing crisis.”