Government ‘lacks urgency’ in protecting tenants in unhealthy homes

Latest News Fri, May 10, 2024 7:07 AM

The Health and Social Care Committee has published the Government Response to its report on healthy places which urged swift action to protect tenants from the ‘catastrophic’ impact of poor housing on health.

Andrea Leadsom, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Care, said communities and places where people live, work, grow and play have a direct impact on health and can also make healthier choices easier or harder.

The Government has “carefully considered all the recommendations” in the report and accept some, but decline others.

“Achieving the health and wellbeing benefits of improved places requires collective vision, effort and investment,” she said. “That is why we are working across Government on the key social and environmental underpinnings of health and are driving forward work to deliver on our Levelling Up Missions.”

The Government is further supporting local areas and communities to shape their places and environments, taking their health into their own hands by encouraging healthy behaviours and reducing environmental hazards.

But Steve Brine MP, Chair of the committee, said: “There appears to be a general theme running through the government’s response to our report. It is a lack of urgency.

“The need for action was brought into sharp focus by the preventable death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak from a respiratory condition caused by mould in his rented home. Tenants in both the social and private rented sectors deserve greater legal protection.

“While the government has accepted our call to update the Decent Homes Standard for the social rented sector and to implement a Decent Homes Standard for the private rented sector, we are no closer to seeing an update and there’s no timetable for the changes to happen.

“Given that the consultation on Awaab’s law has closed, it is critical that the government acts quickly on legislation that will force landlords in the social rental sector to ensure that tenants do not suffer wholly preventable harms to their health through housing hazards.

“We are concerned that protection for tenants in the private sector will depend on the extent of measures in the Renters (Reform) Bill to prevent landlords evicting tenants who raise concerns, ensuring that they can report and receive vital repairs without fear of losing their homes in the process.”

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