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Housing cuts threaten to unwind public health 'victories'

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Hard won victories on public health in unfit housing risk being reversed because of ‘short sighted’ government policies.

That warning has come from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, which said it feared a return to the poor housing standards of the 1980s.

It said cuts in public spending on housing had led to rising levels of homelessness, increased numbers of families living in bed and breakfast accommodation, higher private sector rents and a growing number of complaints about unscrupulous landlords.

Councils were saving money by cutting back environmental health enforcement activity, with fewer inspections and investigations of sub-standard housing.

Policy head David Kidney said: “The CIEH has a number of serious concerns about the implications of the government’s short-sighted approach to housing policy in this country.

“Government cuts of around 90% to the housing budget will affect some of the most vulnerable members of the community such as the elderly, single mothers and asylum seekers.

“Coupled with this, local authority cuts will curtail the ability of environmental health practitioners to police and regulate private rented sector.

“Many hard fought public health victories in housing are being abandoned because of a lack of resources.”

He was speaking ahead of the CIEH’s annual health and housing conference next month.

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