Housing

Housing and education policy has impacted on young people’s long-term health

The UK’s 12-24 year-olds face a serious risk to health, the Health Foundation’s two-year inquiry into future health finds

Health Foundation Andrew Saunders

A whole government approach is required to secure the future health of today’s young people, says the Health Foundation after concluding their two-year inquiry into the matter.

The charity found that policies across housing, transport and education had created a serious risk of ill health in later life for people aged between 12 and 24 years.

More than 600 young people told them of how a challenging housing market had left them trapped in poor quality, shorter-term rental homes and priced out of buying long-term properties. Or how the job market struggled to provide secure rewarding work.

Or how a fragmented approach to spending and investment in young people across multiple government departments had impacted on their prospects.

“Most people wouldn’t automatically think that housing, transport and education policies have much to do with people’s health,” said Jo Bibby, director of health at the Health Foundation. “However, our inquiry has shown that getting these – and other areas of government policy – right for young people sets them on course for a healthy future. This is why we are recommending changes to ensure young people have somewhere to call home, rewarding work and supportive relationships with friends, families and communities.

“It is apparent that the arbitrary division of responsibilities between different sectors is letting young people down and jeopardising their long-term health. We must address these divisions and ensure there is a whole government approach to drive us towards a healthy future.”

The inquiry features a series of recommendations to push young people’s issues up the agenda.

There are calls for discounted and free public transport for students, an end for the ‘teach to test’ culture that places emphasis on exams to the detriment of mental health and significant reforms to the private rental sector, including minimum standards for landlords and greater support for ‘build to rent’ schemes.

Evie Basch, 20, from Bristol, took part in the inquiry’s research and is a member of its Young People’s Steering Group. She said: “Throughout the inquiry it became obvious that although we were looking at separate topics – housing, work, transport and mental health support – they were all interlinked with each other.

“Moving towards an integrated system in terms of health care, benefits, social services and more, should be something to strive towards. It is vital that young people are consulted in decisions that affect their futures.”

https://twitter.com/today4tmrrw/status/1183731178295189510

The Big Issue is well aware of the plight facing young people and those concerns are at the heart of the Future Generations Bill that Lord John Bird has introduced into the House of Lords this week.

The bill aims to put future generations at the heart of decision-making and is part of a wider campaign called Today for Tomorrow that is looking to lay the groundwork now for a more equal society for the generations who follow.

Images: Health Foundation/Andrew Saunders

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