This week, as the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday, the focus will be on the current state of our health service and the great staff who work for it. What, though, does the anniversary signal for housing, and its relationship with health?
After all, Nye Bevan was not just the Minister for Health. He was also the minister for housing. He wasn’t just responsible for the creation of the health service. In 1949, Bevan proudly stated that over 850,000 new homes had been built since the end of the Second World War. Indeed, more council houses were built in Wales between 1945 and 1951 than have been built since 1971.
Like many of our greatest social reformers, Bevan recognised and understood the connection between good housing and good health. He insisted on housing that was well designed, with increased space standards and indoor toilets.
Now, 70 years later, both housing and the NHS are in crisis. There is no individual minister with responsibility for both housing and health. And the gap between the two policy areas feels, at times, to be getting bigger.
Yet the links between good housing and good health remain indisputable. The estimated costs of poor housing to the NHS are staggering – at least £1.4 billion per year.
So how can we break down the barriers between the two sectors, and reinvigorate the connection? How can we create new relationships between the main providers of housing and health – between housing associations and the NHS Trusts?
At HACT, we have been brokering relationships between housing and health, encouraging conversations, identifying opportunities, and brokering collaborations.
In the next part of this blog, I’ll reveal the first area for future collaboration: maximising our assets.