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Health, mental health and housing conditions in England

Heating dial
Researchers: Sally McManus
Published: January 2010

Aim

We looked into the relationships between poor housing conditions, fuel-related debt and other indicators of poverty. We also examined associations with mental health, physical health and disability. This is one of the few social research studies to have investigated the relationship between fuel-related debt and mental health.

Findings

Households and poverty

  • households with children were at particular risk of experiencing fuel-related poverty, as were people living in flats and maisonettes and those in rented accommodation
  • older people living alone fared worse than those living as a couple
  • single parent families were particularly likely to limit their use of fuel because of worries about cost.

Physical health

People with a physical health problem were more likely to be unable to heat their home adequately in winter, have mould in the property and use less fuel due to worries about cost.

Mental health

Those with a common mental disorder (CMD) such as depression or anxiety were more likely to experience all aspects of fuel-related poverty. Equally, not being able to heat the home in winter, having a combination of fuel and other debt, having mould and limiting fuel use because of cost were all predictors of CMD.

This report highlights fuel-related poverty as a key public health issue requiring a multifaceted and cross-sector approach. Not only are policies aimed directly at reducing fuel poverty required, but also wider public policy to tackle unemployment and low incomes and improve people’s debt management skills. 

Methodology

This report is based on secondary analysis of data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007, a survey of 7,400 people aged 16 and over living in households in England. Interviews assessed participants for mental disorders and collected information about the household and property.

Read the report

Read the research summary