The APPG on Healthy Homes and Buildings was established in March 2016 to highlight the health and cost benefits which can be achieved by constructing our buildings and homes to the highest levels of comfort and energy efficiency.
Most of us typically spend 90% of our time inside buildings of one sort or another. Therefore, our homes and buildings should first and foremost be designed for people. Creating comfortable living and working conditions is critical to our general happiness, health, wellbeing and successful education.
The APPG believes that all homes and buildings should be warm, dry and well-lit and above all be healthy. Healthy living and working environments which are efficient and safe really help the most vulnerable in our society. More efficient buildings require less energy which can help deliver lower energy bills which provides respite for the fuel poor. There is also the wider benefit of a reduction in carbon emissions which benefits all in society.
The APPG for Healthy Homes and Buildings will look at the financial benefits accrued by lower energy bills and lower costs to the health service. It will also look at holistic and innovative solutions to delivering healthy homes as well as examining ways of encouraging behavioural change to ensure that people are empowered to use their homes in smarter and more efficient ways.
WHAT DOES THE APPG DO?
PROMOTES THE COST BENEFITS OF HEALTHY HOMES AND BUILDINGS
Treating medical conditions associated with poor housing will save millions of pounds and thousands of lives. According to the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology, poor housing conditions have a detrimental impact on health and cost the NHS at least £600 million per year. A 2012 report by Age UK suggested that cold homes cost the NHS £1.36 billion per year whilst a 2016 report by National Energy Action demonstrates that the cost could be as high as £3.6 million per day.
CREATE POWERFUL ADVOCATES
Despite the high profile debate around housing, health and the effects of climate change (e.g. flooding) there is little mention in the media of the benefits of building and investing in healthy and comfortable homes. The APPG will build advocacy and raise the profile of the many social and health problems caused as a result of unhealthy homes and buildings.
The APPG provides a forum to bring together influencers and decision makers at local and national level to raise the profile of the problem and to work together to improve the lives of people across the UK. The APPG exists to help make people’s lives better and that this can be achieved by working closely with the Group sponsors and wider political and industry stakeholders.
PROVIDE BETTER COORDINATION
There is a wide range of central and local agencies involved in housing. There is a need for better co-ordination between these groups and comprehensive guidance to help local authorities to improve standards and build healthy housing stock.
WHAT ARE UNHEALTHY BUILDINGS?
If a home or building is cold, damp, poorly lit, noisy and unsafe the occupants are more likely to suffer health and wellbeing problems and become ill. If they already have health problems, an unhealthy home is going to make them worse. Families who live in an unhealthy home and/or who can’t afford to keep their home warm are rightly concerned that their children are more likely to suffer health problems and a consequent deterioration in their educational attainment.
So what is an unhealthy home? An unhealthy home is:
- Falls are one of the biggest hazards in the home. Removing trip hazards and simple heating repairs to improve warmth could reduce the number of visits to A&E and acute hospital stays.
- Almost half of all childhood accidents are associated with physical conditions in the home. Families living in properties that are in poor physical condition are more likely to experience a fire in the home.
DAMP, COLD AND NOISY
- Too many homes are damp and cold. A house full of mould combined with the stress of trying to get it sorted can trigger anxiety and depression or worse. Those with respiratory problems such as asthma will take more time off work or school due to illness. Good lighting and air quality are equally important to health.
- Adults in poor quality housing are more likely to report low mental health compared with those living in good quality housing
- Pensioners in bad housing are more likely to have bad or very bad health compared with those in good housing
Chairman – Jim Shannon MP
Co-Chair – Mary Glindon MP
Co-Chair – Philippa Whitford MP
Treasurer – David Simpson MP
Secretary – Derek Thomas MP
For forthcoming meetings of the APPG please consult their website.
BEAMA and the My Health My Home campaign sponsor the Healthy Homes APPG as well as Saint Gobain. You can see the group’s entry into the APPG register by clicking here.