Health and Wellbeing in Brent: A Focus on Housing
With public health now a statutory responsibility for councils, there are greater opportunities to improve it through the numerous levers available in local government that can influence population health. A key opportunity involves the planning process. Planning functions in local government are an important means by which to shape the natural and built environment, which can contribute to positive health outcomes through access to green spaces, housing, transport and high streets and town centres. Improving health and wellbeing is a requirement of the National Planning Policy Framework, and planning development and management can make a significant contribution to this.
The quality of housing greatly affects the health and wellbeing of residents. Inadequate housing can cause many preventable diseases and injuries, including respiratory diseases such as asthma and bronchitis, nervous system and cardiovascular diseases and cancer (1). It can also have a detrimental impact on mental health. Over 25,000 people die each year in the UK as a result of living in cold temperatures and much of this is due to living in poorly heated homes (2). Living in cold homes can worsen arthritis and increase risk of falls and other accidents through stiffening and tightening of the joints. Overcrowded homes can contribute to mental stress and reduce general wellbeing. Poor housing is estimated to cost the NHS at least £2.5 billion a year in treating people with illnesses directly linked to living in cold, damp and dangerous homes (3).
The shortage of housing in England is a key cause for concern, and buying a home is increasingly out of reach for many. Over the last two Parliaments, the number of people under 45 who can afford their own home has fallen by a fifth (4). House prices are rising faster than average earnings and there are 1.7 million households on waiting lists for affordable homes across England (4).
Councils (including county councils) have a strategic role in housing, working with partners to ensure that current and future housing needs are met in the local area. District and single tier councils improve the quality of housing through regulation of the private rented sector. They may also own and manage their own social housing or deliver home adaptations to prevent avoidable domestic accidents. The King’s Fund provides an in depth view of the role of district councils in improving public health through some of their key functions, including housing.
This report provides an overview of housing provision in relation to health and wellbeing in Brent. It pulls together a range of measures including housing affordability and availability, housing conditions, and health outcomes potentially related to poor housing. It is designed to inform discussions about local challenges and successes around housing and the potential wider impact on health and wellbeing.
This report has been designed for viewing at single tier and district local authority geography. The following charts show a range of measures for Brent compared with either England or the average across all English single tier and district councils, and also with your chosen comparison group. You can select your chosen authority and comparison group, such as all local authorities in the South East, using the boxes above (start typing in 'South East' and it will appear in the search box).
The topics covered in this report are:
- Housing affordability and availability
- Housing conditions
- Disease and mortality
An in depth view of housing, health and wellbeing at ward level in your authority is available on LG Inform Plus here.