Party leaders warned of household mould crisis

Social Workers Union (SWU), Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP), British Association of Social Workers (BASW)

Political party leaders have been warned that vulnerable adults and children living in cold, damp, mouldy homes is a national scandal in an open letter from campaigners.

The letter comes after research among members of the Social Workers Union found that two-thirds (61%) of children’s social workers witnessed young people living in conditions with excessive levels of mould.

At a wider level, the study found that over half (55%) of adult, child and mental health social workers saw the people they support living in cold damp homes and many reported disabled people restricting their use of energy to dangerously low levels. 

The letter, signed by the Social Workers Union, the Association of Educational Psychologists, and the British Association of Social Workers says that “it is clear from the findings that for many of the most vulnerable in society, the cost of living crisis is not over. Energy bills (and other essentials) are still costing much more than in 2021, standing charges increased this month and energy debt is at record levels – meanwhile energy firms make billions in profit.”

Eleven other campaign groups – ranging from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, Generation Rent and Medact to Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Ashden – have also supported the letter stating that “the health impacts of so many people living in cold damp homes puts a strain on the NHS while children and young people living in the damp and the cold cannot thrive and develop.” 

The main party leaders have been urged to promise drastic action being taken to fix Britain’s cold homes crisis.

This includes a much faster roll out of programmes to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and reforms to the energy market to bring down the cost of household bills, including a social tariff for the most vulnerable and a scale up of renewable energy to bring down the cost of electricity and increase energy security.

Politicians are also warned that they are “mistaken if they feel that the level of support currently on offer is enough – or will be enough” and that additional financial support will be needed to help people through next winter.

Recent figures from the Social Workers Union also found that two-fifths (40%) of social workers have raised concerns about cases where they don’t believe appropriate action was taken in the last 18 months. The letter urges the Government to ensure that the high quality public services needed to deal with the fall out from the cost of living crisis are fully funded.

The letter was sent to the leaders of political parties in Westminster, excluding the Northern Irish leaders as the sample size from the original survey was relatively small.