A councillor has urged the city’s Health and Wellbeing Board to establish meaningful health targets, as part of its planned Health and Wellbeing Strategy.
Cllr Janet Looker, who has served on City of York Council since its creation in 1996, said too often strategies sit gathering dust because they don’t contain clear targets professionals can work towards.
At last week’s meeting, Cllr Looker raised the example of targeting black mould removal in tenants’ homes, following the death of a young child in Rochdale. The coroner confirmed the death was the result of unacceptable housing conditions provided by Rochdale Boroughwide Housing.
Cllr Looker said:
“The proposed strategy contains a series of very noble goals, all of which we would all support. But I very much hope that behind it will sit a plan to meet a whole range of targets, if we are to improve the health of the city.
“The strategy, amongst other goals, aims to reduce health inequalities, reduce anxiety and ‘prevent now to avoid harm later’. Having seen the awful loss of a child in Rochdale to uninhabitable living conditions and knowing there are plenty of homes in York with similar problems, I think the Board should be targeting mouldy council homes.
“It’s an easy-to-understand target and would make a huge difference to the physical and mental health of affected tenants. This is just one example, but there are countless others over and above those in the strategy.
“The goal is not the difficult thing to identify, it’s the actions required to achieve the goal. What actions will help to reduce the incidence of self-harm in our young people? What things can the Board and the council influence and what are outside its control?
“Public health needs to be at the centre of everything the council does and in how it prioritises its increasingly limited resources”.
Since Cllr Looker’s suggestion to the Board last week, the social housing regulator has written to all major social housing providers, including York Council, at the instruction of Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove MP. The regulator is demanding reports on assessments of damp and mould hazards, actions proposed to tackle them, and details of each housing provider’s processes for responding to tenants’ reports of damp and mould in their homes.
Labour’s housing spokesperson Cllr Michael Pavlovic said:
“We’ve been pushing for a York plan to address damp in people’s homes for some time and it looks like we might now get one. It’s just a shame it has taken such a tragic event like this to bring it about.
“York Council will now need to explain what it is going to do about damp and mould to ensure its tenants’ homes are habitable, one of the most basic expectations of any landlord”.