Clean air and future Decent Homes

Can the current or next government legislate for good health and wellbeing in the home? 

Spring has heralded a renewed government push to improve health and safety in homes, focussed on both rental and social homes. 

But while provisions for serious safety concerns are plenty, legislation should also ensure that the health and wellbeing of residents can be improved. 

The Health and Social Care Committee's recent report, "Prevention in health and social care: healthy places," emphasizes the vital link between healthy home environments and the wellbeing of tenants and residents. Serious hazards like damp, mould, poor air quality, and extreme cold or heat can significantly, and sometimes fatally, impact tenants' lives.  

The ongoing update of the Decent Homes Standard (setting out the health and safety requirements that constitute ‘decency’), and Awaab’s Law, mandating prompter redress of health hazards in social homes following the tragic passing of Awaab Ishak from mould, should provide a framework for improved health and safety in social homes. 

The Renters (Reform) Bill meanwhile, brought back from potential scrapping for its Report stage in the Commons this month, will extend the Decent Homes Standard to the private rental sector. 

Do these legislative changes go far enough, and does the system – such as local authorities and emergency services – have the capacity to enforce regulations? 

A possible way forward 

The All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group’s forthcoming parliamentary reception, "Living and Breathing: Healthy Air at Home," will gather experts in air quality, housing, health and policy to explore collaborative strategies for enhancing the current standard of 'healthy' homes in the UK. 

With a looming general election, it's important to consider what future priorities the next government should set to enhance UK housing standards. As highlighted in the Health and Social Care Committee report, merely eliminating hazards and immediate dangers isn't enough to promote health and wellbeing within homes. All homes, whether social or private, should be decent, healthy and safe in their design and maintenance. 

The All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group continues its advocacy for healthier and safer homes, free from carbon monoxide exposure, and will ensure the next government is informed in its action on air quality and health at home.