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Decent homes programme saving NHS £millions

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Decent homes programme saving NHS £millions

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Health and also in Housing

Birmingham to approve £102 million investment in council housing Birmingham to approve £102 million investment in council housing

A study of the decent homes programme has estimated that the government-backed scheme has saved the NHS approximately £392 million.

The BRE Trust's report reveals that improvements made under the programme have massively reduced the amount of housing-related injuries and illnesses.

Introduced by the Department for Communities and Local Government in 2001, the aim of the scheme was to improve all social housing by 2010.

The benefits of dealing with the most serious hazards as categorised in the Housing Health & Safety Rating System represent the bulk of the savings to the NHS, with treatment costs totalling £224m.

Added to these savings are the annual savings to the NHS going forward if the stock is maintained at a decent level and hazard free, which are estimated at £71m per year.

According to the report, other benefits include significant reductions in carbon emissions from social housing and significant reductions in fuel costs (£2 billion to £1.4bn) for tenants.

Many social tenants have, for the first time, been involved in making major decisions about their homes and estates, helping to build community cohesion and a sense of pride in some of the most deprived estates in the UK, the study says.

Report author Simon Nicol said: "Continued investment in improving social sector homes not only makes economic sense, it also results in much broader economic benefits for both individuals and society as a whole.

"The cost benefits we’ve calculated related to NHS treatment costs cover only 40% of the total costs to society as a whole of poor housing - other costs not measured in this report include aftercare costs following treatment, reduced educational attainment and reduced economic performance."

The research also considers what work remains to be done in terms of both dealing with homes that are still non-decent and in ensuring that standards are maintained in dwellings that are have already been improved.

The study estimates that 759,000 dwellings (20%) of all social homes were non-decent in 2010, which are by and large very hard to treat and costly to treat homes.

The report argues that if adequate money is not invested, then every home that falls into non-decency will start to cost the NHS more. Furthermore, those costs will accrue year after year until the problems are rectified.

The estimated costs to the NHS of the category 1 hazards still remaining in 2010 was £184m.

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