Vast sums are being added to the cost of the health service and welfare state because of illnesses that people contract from living in sub-standard housing, an environmental health body has warned.
The cost to the NHS alone is £600m, and to “society as a whole” is almost three times as much, they estimate. There are fears that benefit cuts could worsen the problem.
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health will send out a warning about the perils of poor housing when they hold their annual conference tomorrow.
They say that tenants in the private rented sector are suffering mental health problems, child poverty and rising debts.
Dr Stephen Battersby, of the Pro-Housing Alliance, said: “Deep-seated problems with this country’s housing stock, including lack of supply of genuinely affordable housing, are well known, but the Government’s latest welfare reforms combined with a cut in funding for local authorities is allowing third world-like conditions to develop for many thousands of vulnerable people.”
The Government has conceded that tenants in private accommodation are often worse off than those who rent from a council or a housing association. The so-called “bedroom tax” is designed to iron out these differences.