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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-07581: Alison Johnstone (Lothian)

Scottish Green Party

Date lodged: 28 February 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what recent assessment it has made on the impact of (a) poor housing and (b) hard-to-heat homes on the health and wellbeing of (i) children, (ii) disabled people and (iii) people with long-term health conditions.

Answered by: Kevin Stewart 14 March 2017

The “Evidence Review of the Potential Wider Impacts of Climate Change Mitigation Options: Built Environment Sector” published in 2017 to inform the draft Climate Change Plan http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2017/01/3358 found evidence that measures to improve the energy efficiency of homes, including by insulating them, can result in benefits to residents’ health, particularly among those living in fuel poverty. Physical health benefits can arise from warmer homes; and mental health benefits can arise from reduced energy bills and hence reduced stress.

In addition, GoWell, funded by Scottish Government, published research “Can housing improvements cure or prevent the onset of health conditions over time in deprived areas?” http://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12889-015-2524-5/fulltext.html in November 2015. This research indicated that receipt of fabric works was associated with higher likelihood of recovery from mental health problems and circulatory conditions. Receipt of central heating was also associated with higher likelihood of recovery form circulatory conditions. The research also noted that health gain from housing improvements appears most likely when targeted at those in greatest health need.

The Fuel Poverty Evidence Review published in 2012 by the Scottish Government examined evidence on the relationship between cold homes and poor health outcomes. It concluded that there was evidence suggesting that there was an association between thermal comfort and mental well-being, particularly among young people and children and that the risk of physical and mental health problems for children increased the longer they lived in cold homes.