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Private tenants' health threatened by welfare reforms, says report

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Private tenants' health threatened by welfare reforms, says report

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Health

Tenants' health threatened by welfare reforms, says report Tenants' health threatened by welfare reforms, says report

A new report has claimed that the Government's welfare reforms are threatening the health of private tenants and those on housing benefit.

The Pro-Housing Alliance's (PHA) report - 'Poor homes, poor health- to heat or to eat? Private sector tenant choices in 2012' - is based on interviews with private tenants across the country, and housing advisers such as Citizens Advice.

The PHA points to the Government's own data that shows nearly 900,000 homes in the private rented sector (PRS) have a Category 1 hazard, which means that they pose an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of occupiers and visitors.

Speaking at the report's launch, PHA chair Dr Stephen Battersby said: "The health of tenants in the private rented sector who are in receipt of housing and other benefits is clearly being put further at risk as a consequence of the Government’s welfare reforms and poor conditions within the sector."

The PHA claims that almost 1.4 million homes in the PRS are classified as non-decent and 44% fail the standard on the 'thermal comfort criterion’.

The report finds that the Government should be doing more to assess the public health impacts of the welfare reforms.

One Blackpool tenant told researchers that they "would have to live in a tent" after the reforms, despite living in an area where rent is comparatively cheap.

A pensioner who was interviewed said: “I have lost contact with all my old friends because I am embarrassed about the circumstances I am living in and my lack of money.”

Advice agencies are struggling too, claiming they are “drowning under demand”. One adviser said: “People will live in dangerous situations with their fingers crossed rather than tackle their landlord.”

The PHA commissioned Gill Leng Housing Solutions (GLHS) to conduct its research. Gill Leng said: “Talking to tenants and advice agencies up and down the country has shown just how the cuts are impacting on people who already have very little money to live on. It is clear that health inequalities will be further increased not reduced."

Dr Battersby continued: “The study by GLHS shows that lack of security and high costs for what can be dangerous and unhealthy housing contributes to poor health including mental health. This is made worse by the difficulties of finding the money to keep warm and eat – sometimes tenants cannot do both. This will lead to greater demands on the NHS, and one wonders if this is part of a policy of coercion by destitution."

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