THE Labour Party is marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the NHS by setting out plans to create so-called healthy homes zones.
Such zones are part of a wider consultation that takes in a range of measures intended to reduce housing related health inequalities, which Labour say cost the NHS £1.4 billion a year.
The Healthy Homes Zones would target areas with the poorest quality housing, with new funding and tougher powers to crack down on poor quality rented housing.
In marking the anniversary, the Labour Party is channelling the spirit of Nye Bevan by bringing housing and health together, since he has was responsible for both areas of policy in the post-war Labour government.
The proposals were announced by shadow housing secretary John Healey, and shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth, and will include a new requirement for a healthy housing strategy in every local area.
“Housing and health were joined after the second world war because widespread slum private housing meant unsanitary conditions and poor health for millions,” said Healey. This was Beveridge’s evil of ‘squalor’. We’re at risk of recreating this problem today. More people live in private rented housing now than at any time since the 1950s and hundreds of thousands of these homes are unfit to live in. The next Labour Government will act decisively to change this.”
Jonathan Ashworth added: “Labour in establishing the NHS 70 years ago knew of the link between health outcomes and quality of housing, indeed Nye Bevan was both minister for health and housing. As part of our determination to narrow health inequalities and tackle the wider social determinants of poor health, we must again more closely align health and housing policy. Housing related health problems are costing the NHS an estimated £1.4 billion a year and poor housing can ruins people’s lives so for Labour in Government, in the spirit of Bevan’s original vision, it will be a priority to combat housing related illness and ensure nobody’s poor home damages their health.”
Measures Labour is to consult on include:
- Setting up new ‘healthy homes zones’ to target areas with the worst quality housing, with new landlord licensing powers and penalties
- Start up funding from a new £50 million Housing and Health Inequalities Fund
- A national ‘healthy homes tsar‘ to co-ordinate central government’s work, and report on progress
- A clearer healthy homes standard to give residents confidence in the standards they should expect
- A requirement all local areas to have a dedicated health and housing strategy within the first year of a Labour Government