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Improving minority ethnic households good for society as a whole - report

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Improving minority ethnic households good for society as a whole - report

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

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Improving housing conditions for minority ethnic households has a significant positive impact on health and wellbeing and reduces costs for the NHS and society as a whole, a new report has claimed.

Using English House Survey data, the report, by the Building Research Establishment and the Race Equality Foundation, includes a profile of the types of homes occupied by minority ethnic households and their white counterparts. It notes in particular that England's 2.2 million minority ethnic households are more likely to rent and live in flats, and about a quarter are living in the oldest pre-1919-built homes, many of which are in poor condition.

For the first time, housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS) information from the English House Survey and NHS data on the outcomes of housing hazards was used to quantify the cost of poor housing among minority ethnic households, both to the NHS and wider society.

Any home that had any of the most serious (Category 1) HHSRS hazards was classified by the research as poor housing. It found that around 15% of minority ethnic households live in poor housing.

Notably, in private sector homes 18% live in poor housing compared to 8% in public sector homes. The report estimates that the situation costs the NHS around £52 million per year.

Ratna Dutt, CEO of the Race Equalities Foundation, said: "If we take into account other factors such as consequent reduced educational achievement, lost income, higher insurance premiums and higher policing and emergency services, the full cost to society is estimated to be some £129m per year – this is very significant and something we need to address."

Citing the example of BRE's housing health cost calculator as a tool for calculating how much can be saved through improvements, the research outlines how investment in poor housing both enhances the lives of minority ethnic households and saves on the costs of NHS treatment for illnesses and injuries, sometimes within a relatively short period.

It also details the cost-effectiveness of simple home safety improvements, such as handrails on dangerous stairs and steps and better home security.

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