Healthy Housing for Scotland: A briefing paper setting out the fundamental link between housing and public health

Cover Healthy Housing for Scotland

Adequate housing which is safe, accessible, available, appropriate and high quality is key to us achieving the highest attainable standard of health. This briefing paper sets out evidence on how housing can influence health and wellbeing.

Underpinned by 28 key messages, this paper is intended to complement the Housing to 2040 (opens new window) route map and associated position statement by outlining in greater detail the pathways and mechanisms for how housing can influence health and wellbeing. The evidence drawn on includes academic papers, policy analysis, case studies and examples of lived experience.

Published on 8th June 2021, key messages include:

  • There are opportunities for public health and housing collaboration to promote health and wellbeing.
  • Living in poverty associated with housing affordability is the main causes of health inequalities, such as higher mortality rates and cold-related ill health.
  • By 2024, over 31,000 disabled people are projected to experience unmet housing needs.
  • In Scotland in 2019, 2% of households lived in overcrowded accommodation. All home should have access to outdoor space, daylight and broadband. Improved energy efficiency, removing hazards from the home and increasing provision of affordable housing are some ways housing can be modified to improve health outcomes for households.
  • Action to tackle climate change much be shared widely and understanding more about the impact of energy-efficient design of housing on indoor air quality is critical in reducing anxiety and depression among those whose homes are flooded.
  • The impact of housing on health and wellbeing for excluded and marginalised communities is complicated and not equal.
  • A good tenant-landlord relationship improves mental health due to sustained tenancy.
  • Place-based approaches can improve the quality of homes and neighbourhoods and support the health and wellbeing of communities.

It is anticipated this briefing will be a tool for housing colleagues who will be developing and implementing policy and carrying out associated impact assessments. It also aims to support public health colleagues who are working locally, regionally and nationally with housing colleagues in the process of designing, implementing and evaluating policy decisions.

"Housing can influence health directly through condition, security of tenure, overcrowding and suitability for inhabitants’ needs. Wider aspects of housing that influence health indirectly include affordability and poverty, housing satisfaction, choice and control, social isolation, access to key services such as health care, and environmental sustainability.” Katrina Reid, Health Improvement Manager, Health and Housing, Public Health Scotland.

There is opportunity to address the experience of many households outlines in this paper through Housing to 2040.