Creating healthy partnerships between public health and housing to tackle health inequalities

Liz Parsons headshot
Liz Parsons
Head of Public Health – Built Environment and Social Housing, across Milton Keynes City, Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough councils

We are working together to create a blueprint for a new way of working between health and housing to tackle health inequalities in our communities.  To this end, an exciting new and innovative health and housing partnership was launched in April 2022.

The partnership is a jointly funded programme between the shared Public Health team (Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire, and Milton Keynes City councils) and 2 Housing Associations - Grand Union Housing Group and Peabody.

So why health and housing?

Many of the important building blocks of health are outside of the control of public health teams, so working in partnership is an important enabler for Public Health services.

Housing is one of these building blocks and if Public Health and housing providers can work together as partners, there is great potential make better progress to reduce health inequalities.

Where we live and how we live, has a significant impact on our health and wellbeing. This can include the affordability of homes; the quality of homes; and our home as route to engage in community life.

Housing Associations and Local Authority Landlords therefore play a key role in the health agenda. Their homes and service delivery can, when aligned with strong partnership working help tackle health inequalities. For example, some of the key determinants of health include issues such as:


How many people could benefit from this way of working?

If we look at the national picture, over 8.5 million people live in social housing in England and almost half live in the most deprived 20% of neighbourhoods. People living in the poorest neighbourhood live on average 7 years less than those in the richest neighbourhoods.

We believe, partnership and place-based approaches can achieve more effective engagement with those facing the most acute health inequalities. It can improve the reach of Public Health services, making them more universally available and accessible.

Housing associations are long term organisations rooted in their communities and the partnership approach supports Healthy neighbourhoods and places.

What’s happened in year one?

The first year of the new partnership has seen a focus on establishing shared strategic priorities and developing operational delivery. We have:

  • Identified areas of strategy alignment - Health and Wellbeing Strategy and Housing Corporate Strategy and the shared goals
  • Worked in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Housing and across systems to influence policy and practice opportunities
  • Mapped shared delivery and outcome areas
  • Piloted research to gain insights into how people feel about their health and the barriers they face to improving their health

And what does this mean for residents?

Through the partnership, we are using placed based partnership approaches enable more direct engagement with residents in social housing. 

We have successfully established 2 community hubs working with Grand Union and Peabody.  These hubs are in areas that have been identified as priority areas from both a housing management and a health perspective.  We have also worked with other partners to support existing community-based approaches.  And, since launching the 2 new hubs, there have been 822 attendees, which, so far have resulted in 20 referrals into services including smoking cessation, social prescribing and mental health support.

Feedback from residents has also been incredibly positive and the opportunity to access Public Health services in the community has been welcomed.

Lastly, one of the key learnings from the hubs is that it can often take people a number of weeks to feel confident comfortable enough to attend one of the hub sessions.  Feedback from residents who have been supported and then attended a session has been overwhelmingly positive and often enables people to tackle multiple issues, resulting in improvements in their lives.

If you found this of interest, check out a variety of other public health and housing resources on the Housing LIN’s Health and Housing Intel pages.


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