Social Housing: Mould

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Excerpts
Wednesday 10th January 2024

(6 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Scott of Bybrook Portrait Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con)
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I thank the right reverend Prelate for that question. I do not know the answer to it, but I will certainly find out. I know that this is an important issue. Housing associations providing temporary accommodation have to provide the correct furniture and fittings for such families, and I will check that cots are included. I also know that such charities—which I have been involved with many times, and which do a wonderful job—are providing not just cots but all the other things that babies and young people need, particularly if they are being moved around a lot. I will get a Written Answer to the right reverend Prelate regarding cots.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Portrait Baroness Finlay of Llandaff (CB)
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My Lords, the NHS spends £1.4 billion a year on treating illnesses associated with mould. The evidence is that the number of damp problems in the private rented sector is almost double the number in the social sector. People renting often have great difficulty in knowing where to seek help and are frightened of going to the landlord in case of recrimination against them for having raised an issue. Have the Government considered asking every local authority to establish a registration point where people who feel that their housing is seriously below standard can report the issue and discuss it, so that they can get support when going to the ombudsman or wherever else they might need to go? There is a real gap in their ability to advocate for themselves.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook Portrait Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con)
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No, we have not considered that, and I am not sure that local authorities have the capacity to that at this time. But it is important that we make sure that tenants know their rights and where to go. The ombudsman is creating many more positions, so it should be able to deal with these things quicker. I was pleased to learn that the Department of Health and Social Care has developed new, consolidated guidance, tailored to the housing sector, on the health aspects of damp and mould. There was some disagreement about what was important or how much damp and mould could be allowed in these homes in order for them to be safe; I am glad that that guidance has been consolidated. I hope that we are moving forward, and I absolutely know that when Awaab’s law comes into effect, things will change considerably and at much greater speed.