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The housing conditions of minority ethnic households in England

This paper seeks to quantify the cost of poor housing among minority ethnic households both to the NHS and wider society using analysis of data from the English Housing Survey (EHS). Due to the small sample sizes used for the EHS, this paper does not seek to analyse the comparative housing conditions for individual minority ethnic groups but rather compares all minority ethnic households with those of all white households. Likewise, the paper does not seek to compare the benefits of improving housing for minority ethnic communities compared to improving poor housing more generally. Rather the message is a simple one; money invested for improving poor housing among minority ethnic households could have a significant impact in improving health and reducing the financial burden on the NHS.

Key messages

  • In 2010, there were around 2.2 million households from minority ethnic backgrounds in England. Around 327,000 (15%) minority ethnic households lived in a home with at least one Category 1 HHSRS hazard (classified as poor housing in this paper). This varied according to tenure; 18% of minority ethnic private sector households lived with a serious health and safety hazard compared with 8% of those who lived in the public sector.
  • The estimated total annual treatment cost to the NHS is around £52 million per year if the poor housing among minority ethnic households is left unimproved.
  • The wider costs to society of this poor housing are estimated at some 2.5 times the NHS costs. These additional costs include: lack of educational attainment, lost income, higher insurance premiums, higher policing and emergency services costs, etc.
  • Case studies show that investing in the improvement of poor housing will not only make the lives of ethnic minority households more comfortable, it will pay back, often within a relatively short period, in saved treatments costs to the NHS for illnesses and injuries which are now statistically less likely to occur.


  • Minority ethnic households and their homes
  • Poor housing conditions
  • Minority ethnic households – living in a cold home (excess cold and fuel poverty)
  • The cost of improving the homes of minority ethnic households
  • The cost to the NHS of leaving ethnic minorities in poor housing
  • The other costs of leaving ethnic minorities in poor housing
  • Case studies of the cost-benefits of improving the homes of ethnic minorities
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Author(s): Helen Garrett; Justine Piddington; Simon Nicol;
Briefing series: Better Health Briefing Paper 24
Publisher: Race Equality Foundation
Publication date: January 2014