West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas has pressed the Government to use Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as a pilot area for a programme to improve its leaky, unhealthy homes.
Speaking in a debate on the cost to the NHS of unhealthy homes, Mr Thomas said that his St Ives constituency had the ‘leakiest’ homes in England and potentially the leakiest in Europe.
Mr Thomas said that 210 people are estimated to die in Cornwall every year from the cold despite the ‘strong record’ of Anthony Ball and his public health team at Cornwall Council and that these extra winter deaths are preceded on average by eight emergency admissions and 30 social care and secondary care visits.
“It is estimated that it costs the health services in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly £13 million each year,” he said.
“That is £13 million that could go elsewhere to areas of health and care which we would much rather spend our money on instead of collecting people because they have poor homes which could actually be fixed.”
Mr Thomas, who has campaigned for healthy homes since first being elected to Parliament in 2015, said that he had urged the previous Chancellor to spend £2 billion of the £100 billion pledged for infrastructure spending to be used to bring UK homes up to an EPC rating of C.
“In the 21st century in the fifth richest country in the world, we really should be talking about and having healthy homes that we can be proud of,” he added.
Suggesting that Cornwall and Isles of Scilly should be used as a pilot for this work, he said: “This would be a really good way for the Government to see how it could work – how it can improve homes, improve skilled jobs through creating this work, improve the attainment of children and reduce our carbon footprint.”
With reference to the recently published NHS 10-Year Plan and the forthcoming Plan for Social Care, Mr Thomas added: “If we want to deliver the NHS that we are all committed to and want to see in 10 years’ time—if not much before—and if we want to make social care work for everyone who needs it, we need to look at how we improve our homes and the health and wellbeing of everybody in the country who lives in a home that is not up to the job.
“I call on the Minister to look at the issue across Departments to see what we can do to deliver a more sustainable health and social care service partly by improving the homes we live in.”
In response, the Housing Minister, Heather Wheeler MP, said: “The role of housing will be a crucial part of our considerations in the forthcoming social care Green Paper. I also note his (Derek Thomas’s) pitch for a pilot.”