Insecure tenancies, poor housing conditions and overcrowding lead to health problems and worsen risks in the pandemic, a think tank claims.
The Health Foundation says this is why the poor and those from ethnic minorities are disproportionately more likely to have Coronavirus and to have worse health outcomes as a result.
“Since March many of us have spent a lot more time at home. For many, the quality of their home has made their experience of the pandemic even worse than it needed to be,” says Adam Tinson, a senior analyst at the think tank.
“While some have weathered lockdown in large homes with gardens and plenty of living space, others have struggled in overcrowded and unsafe conditions. Overcrowding is associated with the spread of Covid-19, making self-isolation more difficult and allowing the virus to spread through more people if one becomes infected” he continues.
Foundation figures show that eight per cent of households with the lowest income lived in overcrowded homes, compared with under one per cent of those with the highest earnings.
“People’s housing environments have affected their ability to shield themselves and others from Covid-19. People have been encouraged to stay in their homes as much as possible, but within-household transmission has played a serious role in the spread of the virus” says the foundation’s latest report on the issue.
“Overcrowding, which has been increasing in the years prior to the pandemic, makes it harder to self-isolate and shield, and may have contributed to higher death rates in poorer areas.”
The foundation says more social housing, more secure private tenancies and a U-turn on housing benefit changes are required to remedy the problems.