3.1.5 Housing in Bradford district

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1 Published: December Housing in Bradford district Context The homes where we live have long been recognised as an important factor on our health and wellbeing. In Victorian times, during the major expansion of the industrial cities including Bradford, such was the concern over the poor housing conditions impacting on the population s health, local bylaws were developed to place standards on newly built housing specifically to address health issues. These bylaws, although superseded a long time ago by the local planning system, still shape our city s housing; the tunnels we see today that differentiate Bradford s back-to-back houses from those in Leeds were specifically designed to improve public health, and Sir Titus Salt built Saltaire village to keep his workforce healthy! Today, our health has moved on in ways that would be unimaginable to the Victorians and our housing has clearly moved on too. But, whilst modern expectations demand proper kitchens and indoor bathrooms, 40% of our current housing dates to before This ageing housing presents problems, with just over 40% of housing in the private sector being classed as non-decent in our most recent stock condition survey (2007). 25% of private sector housing was found to have the most serious Category 1 failures as assessed by the Housing Health & Safety Ratings System, largely due to the risk of falls on the stairs and excessive cold (again generally associated with steep staircases and poor insulation in our older housing). Poor housing quality leads to a higher risk of accidents, as well as a greater likelihood of cold related illness and other illness related to issues such as damp, mould and poor hygiene. And as the Victorians built new housing to meet the needs of the growing city population, today we too need to build more new homes to meet the needs of our growing district. As our health has improved, so too has our life expectancy, and a high birth rate means we need more homes for people to live. With pressures on green-belt land this is challenging at the best of times, but the current economic circumstances have presented us with even greater challenges. By 2028 we need an additional 48,400 homes on top of the 209,000 we currently have in the district. Housing growth has slowed to just 700 additional homes in 2010/11 with predictions showing 2011/12 likely to be around the 500 mark. Failure to build enough housing can manifest itself as an issue in a number of ways, but we re already seeing increases in overcrowding and an increase in homelessness, albeit from a low base. Whilst both these issues have effects for health, an increase in homelessness would be particularly worrying. A loss of a settled home, for whatever reason, can un-stabilise any household; often leading to a general deterioration in physical and mental health, and potential reliance on substance misuse. The problem isn t big, in terms of the numbers of people effected, but it s very expensive to deal with. It is therefore important to work hard to prevent homelessness happening in the first instance. By working to prevent homelessness, savings are made across many reactive services; for example, the inability of homeless households to be able to register for primary care support places additional strains on Accident and Emergency services. Rough sleeping in particular is estimated to cost the NHS 85m nationally. Whilst homelessness can affect any age group, access to affordable housing is particularly acute for younger households who are more likely to suffer overcrowding and, in the current economic climate often struggle to access meaningful employment. Projections show that changes to Housing Benefit in the welfare reform will affect over 1,000 single person households aged who may have to find shared accommodation when their benefits are reduced. At the other end of the age spectrum, a growing elderly population, who have increasing expectations about where they would like to live are often choosing, or simply defaulting through lack of consideration, to stay in the homes they have lived in for many years. This creates challenges for health and social care services as family housing is often not designed specifically for the needs of elderly people, and care Bradford Observatory - Public Health

2 services have to be provided over a geographically diverse area. Whilst this is generally cheaper and more favourable than hospital admission or residential care it is also important to have an increased offer of higher quality specialist self-contained accommodation for older people, especially in the private sector. There is a need to encourage more people to make their own choice to move to accommodation that would enable them to remain independent longer and be less reliant on health and care services Examples would be by removing physical barriers such as steps, and being cheaper and easier to heat and maintain. Which brings us back to our new housing, and our policies that ensure that all new housing is designed in such a way that it supports our health and wellbeing throughout our entire lives; both now and in the future. The Local Development Framework, which has been developed by the Council s Planning service and is currently out to consultation, sets out the future requirement for all new housing to be of Lifetime Homes Standards. But this isn t set in stone; the Government s new Housing Strategy for England says that Planning requirements for Lifetime Homes Standards should be determined at a local level taking into account need, instead of the previous commitment to implement a policy nationally. There will be people who will lobby against Lifetime Homes on the basis of economic viability; it is our job, not just within Housing, but with colleagues working across the health and wellbeing sector, to ensure that the strongest case possible is made for Lifetime Homes. If the Victorians can work together to improve housing to improve health then so must we. The Housing service has a long history of working in partnership to deliver against the shared priorities. The Bradford Housing Partnership has been in operation in some form for 20 years. This recognises that it is not just the responsibility of one agency or organisation to improve the way that housing and related services meet our shared outcomes. Public Sector funding to support regeneration and affordable housing has reduced by half. The involvement of our colleagues representing the health and wellbeing sectors is vital to ensuring we can all contribute to each other s agendas, especially in these days of limited resourcing. National and local targets The Government are no longer setting top-down targets for housing. Instead these have been replaced with an approach that incentivises through such tools as the New Homes Bonus. This pays a bonus to the Local Authority for each additional new home built, and for each additional empty home brought back into use. This is therefore our opportunity, as partners, to revisit the performance criteria at a local level to ensure that housing supports the health and wellbeing of the population. Whilst the targets no-longer exist, the monitoring and reporting framework largely still does and therefore there is a good position to continue to monitor: Housing growth (net additions to housing stock and new build housing) Affordable home building Demand for social rented housing Homelessness and homelessness prevention This can be supplemented with knowledge on: Housing markets and affordability Repossession and Landlord eviction There are statutory duties to understand housing need and stock condition across the district. However, along with collecting information on fuel poverty and overcrowding, keeping track of trends is resource intensive. This means knowledge is updated as and when opportunities arise. For example, perceptions of stock condition and actual overcrowding levels over the last two years have been monitored by asking specific questions on the Bradford District Partnership s Public Perceptions Survey; but funding for this has now ceased. Housing Need and Stock Condition rely on expensive survey data which is why there continues to be a reliance on data from 2007.

3 Relevant strategies and local documents The Government recently released its flagship Housing Strategy for England This brings together the raft of recently announced national policies relating to housing. Amongst other things the strategy sets out policies for: Increasing the supply of new housing Social and affordable housing reform A thriving private rented sector Quality, sustainability and design of housing Sustainable Homes and Neighbourhoods in a Successful District is Bradford s Joint Housing Strategy This sets out the partnership s housing objectives as: More Homes: To provide new housing, much of it affordable to meet the needs of a growing population. Quality: To improve the quality of the existing housing stock, both private and social, our neighbourhoods and services. Inclusion: To ensure that vulnerable people are helped to maintain a home and achieve independent living. Underneath the Joint Housing Strategy are a number of other strategies relating to Homelessness, Housing in our old age and affordable warmth. To view all housing related strategies and related research, see the website What do the data tell us? Over 99% of social housing is now of a decent standard, but only 60% of private sector households in Bradford live in decent homes. 25% of private sector housing has Category 1 failures as measured against the Housing Health & Safety Ratings System. 59% of housing in the private rented sector is non-decent. Only 51% of vulnerable households live in decent homes. 20,000 people in social housing in the Bradford district have long term health problems. 22% of households are considered to be in fuel poverty, up from 16% in % of households, when asked, agreed that they struggled to find the money to pay for heating and hot water. Interestingly, individuals aged over 75 were least likely to consider that they had problems paying for heating and hot water. In 2010/11 just 700 additional homes were delivered, and in 2011/12 we expect to deliver just 500 additional homes. There are over 18,000 households registered on the Choice Based Lettings system for allocating social housing. 10% of households in the Bradford district are technically overcrowded, as measured against the Bedrooms Standard, and 18% of people are living in technically overcrowded accommodation. From October 2010 to October 2011, 187 households were accepted as unintentionally homeless and in priority housing need. This is up from 134 the year before. Bradford households aged over 50 have an estimated 7bn of equity tied up in their own homes. Through increasing the use of equity release products private sector households in the District could see a step change in the quality of their housing and health. Future needs and gaps in provision An additional 48,000 homes are needed to 2028 to cater for the needs of a growing population. Around 30% of this additional housing will need to be affordable.

4 The total comprehensive repair cost for all private sector dwellings in Bradford is 830.6m, an average of 5,180 per dwelling. 750 people in social housing across the district have unmet care or support needs and for 2,000 households, their current dwelling is not adequately adapted for the needs of the people living there. The current housing options available to an increasingly elderly population are not always meeting their expectations. The housing information provided to older people, and people approaching old age is not always available, accurate or consistent. New build homes are not generally built to Lifetime Homes standards. Welfare reform to Local Housing Allowance will effect up to 16,000 households in the district over the next year. It is unclear at this stage as to whether landlords will reduce their rents to match the new benefits, whether tenants will be able to fund the gap between rents and benefits, or whether there will be an increase in households looking for cheaper accommodation, which may or may not exist. What is clear is that households reliant on benefits will find their income squeezed which may effect their ability to adequately heat their home or pay for food. Summary of priorities The Joint Housing Strategy for the District has three overarching priorities: More Homes: To provide new housing, much of it affordable to meet the needs of a growing population. Quality: To improve the quality of the existing housing stock both private and social, our neighbourhoods and services. Inclusion: To ensure that vulnerable people are helped maintain a home and achieve independent living. To achieve the priorities we must work in partnership so that we can work together to achieve our shared outcomes. Specifically, for health & wellbeing our priorities are to: Improve the supply of good quality housing Support the transition of public health services by contributing to health outcomes through housing Tackling health inequality by enabling the most vulnerable to improve their housing condition Targeting housing conditions which would result in the greatest health impact, such as cold, damp housing, overcrowding, the hazards that cause accidents in the home, poor security and high crime, and inadequate public and open space. Housing will work to achieve our priorities through: Supporting the work of the health and wellbeing board Maintaining the investment by the Council, Registered Providers and residents in appropriate major adaptations to support disabled individuals and their carers to improve and restore independent living, privacy, confidence and dignity. Ease the health needs associated with overcrowding and homelessness by increasing the supply of housing through supporting new build homes and bringing empty homes back into use. Continue to utilise customer face to face contact to signpost health services and housing services building on the success of the housing and health project supporting people with chronic illness. Enabling households to reduce disrepair and health hazards in older private sector housing through approved equity release products and affordable warmth programmes Continue to reduce health hazards in the private rented sector through enforcement of the Health and Housing Safety Rating System Improve housing conditions through the planning control process and application of the building regulations

5 Raise standards in the private rented sector to improve the health outcomes of the most vulnerable families Improve energy efficiency and eco standards to minimise fuel poverty and maximise affordable warmth in particular programmes able to deliver insulation, heating and behavioural change Improve access to housing and housing services to vulnerable people in line with rising expectations and improved choice. Improve the design, quality and supply of housing in the district to better meet the needs of the old and the vulnerable and enable every child to have the best start in life and contribute to their life chances Seek to identify and access all potential alternative funding and delivery mechanisms for tackling our housing priorities, in light of the reduction in public sector funding. Work with public and private sector partners to maximise resources available to households to improve their housing condition for example closer working on equity release schemes and delivering more homes that are affordable. Continue to create sustainable places and communities by providing appropriate emphasis and resource on our work in the district s priority regeneration areas. Through a wide range of housing, planning and economic interventions to close the district s health gap Working to prevent homelessness by offering early intervention and a range of options that offer solutions to householders, including: o Mortgage rescue schemes o Support for customers to access employment, support & training o Tcoy, a dedicated Young People s housing advice service. o Home visiting and outreach services o Delivering a programme within schools o Working with Probation to aid better resettlement after release from custody Working to actively intervene to support rough sleepers back into housing: o Street Reach, which proactively reaches people sleeping rough. o Reconnections, which facilitates the return of destitute Eastern European migrants who wish to return to their country of origin. Prevention or access surgeries in several key agencies where the client group has drug or alcohol dependency Working to disconnect previous lifestyle factors that may undermine other treatment through finding accommodation away from dealers and/or specific peer groups.

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