Letter: Housing ills

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The Independent Online
Sir: Lord Strathclyde's claim (letter, 25 June) that there has been a reduction in the number of unfit houses, should be viewed with caution. The Institution of Environmental Health Officers believes that the Independent interpreted the results of the English House Conditions Survey correctly when it reported that there has been an increase in the number of unfit dwellings.

In 1986 there were 909,000 unfit homes in England and in 1991 the figure rose to 1.456 million, representing an increase of about 60 per cent. It is true that the Government changed the definition of what constitutes an unfit home in 1990, and the 1991 House Condition Survey was carried out under a new standard. However, the fitness standard represents a minimum habitable standard and to have such a level of unfit housing in England must have a significant impact on the health of individuals living in those houses.

For the Government to argue that 1.4 million unfit homes is good news is carrying optimism a little too far.

Yours faithfully,


Assistant Secretary

The Institution of Environmental

Health Officers

London, SE1