The condition and availability of housing can have a significant impact upon health and wellbeing. Poor housing has been shown to have a detrimental impact on both physical and mental health, exacerbating a range of medical conditions and contributing to accidents and injuries such as trips, falls and burns. The availability of affordable, safe and adaptable homes that meet the needs of everyone is essential if people are to flourish and good health and wellbeing is to be promoted.

Key Terms

Poor housing is housing that has at least one Category 1 hazard. A Category 1 hazard is a problem in a home that is serious enough to pose an immediate risk to the health and safety of anyone living there. Such hazards might include homes that are excessively cold or which have a risk of fall or fire.

Affordable Housing is defined in the National Planning Policy Framework as social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. Eligibility is determined with regard to local incomes and local house prices. Affordable housing should include provisions to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households or for the subsidy to be recycled for alternative affordable housing provision.

Lifetimes Homes are ordinary homes designed to incorporate 16 Design Criteria that can be universally applied to new homes at minimal cost. Each design feature adds to the comfort and convenience of the home and supports the changing needs of individuals and families at different stages of life.

Housing Condition


  • Around 16% of dwellings in the Wakefield district can be considered poor housing, that have at least one Category 1 hazard.
  • Compared to England, Wakefield has fewer dwellings with Category 1 hazards overall, although there is slightly higher proportion of homes with fall related hazards.
  • The two most commonly found types of Category 1 hazard in the Wakefield district are trips and falls related hazards and cold related hazards (including damp and mold).
  • The private rented sector has a higher proportion of hazards than other housing sectors in the Wakefield district.
  • It is estimated that poor housing conditions are responsible for over 1,066 harmful events requiring medical treatment every year.
  • Almost 40% of hazards in the Wakefield district are found in the 20% most deprived areas.

The Population

  • Almost 40% of hazards in the Wakefield district are found in the 20% most deprived areas.
  • There are a high proportion of hazards in some more affluent areas, where there tends to be a greater abundance of older houses. However although hazards are present in more affluent areas they pose the greatest risk when present in low income households.

The Challenges

  • The estimated cost to the NHS in Wakefield of treating accidents and ill-health caused by these hazards is £4 million each year. If the wider costs to society are considered, the total costs are estimated to be £10 million.
  • Poor housing in Wakefield is estimated to cost around 431 quality-adjusted life-years (QALY).

Service Provision

  • Advice and support is offered to landlords through initiatives such as the Wakefield Responsible Landlord Scheme.
  • A free Repairs Advice Service for homeowners to help them to plan home repairs and choose and deal with trades people.
  • A range of grants and loans are offered to help landlords and home owners improve the condition of their properties.
  • Enforcement action.

Housing Availability


  • There around 150,000 dwellings in the Wakefield district; 97% of which are occupied.
  • Between 2000 and 2014 overall house prices in the Wakefield district increased by more than 130%.
  • The population of the Wakefield district is estimated to increase by 9.5% over the next 20 years.
  • There are significantly fewer affordable homes being built each year in the Wakefield district than are needed.
  • The number and proportion of older people with additional housing needs living in the Wakefield district is increasing.
  • There are not enough homes being specifically built to meet the needs of people with physical and learning disabilities and autism.
  • Almost three-quarters of older people want to remain in their own homes with help and support when needed.
  • The number of people applying as homeless to the Wakefield Council is increasing, a trend that is predicted to continue.

Further information on Housing Stock available here.

The Population

  • Three-quarters of homes in the Wakefield district are houses with the vast majority of the remaining dwellings being split almost equally between bungalows and flats/maisonettes.
  • 6 in 10 properties in the Wakefield district are owner-occupied, while 2 in 10 are rented from a social landlord and 1 in 10 are private rented/tied accommodation.
  • The number and proportion of Wakefield district residents aged 65 years and over is increasing, a trend which is expected to continue. It is estimated that the number of residents aged 65 yeas and older will increase by more than half in the next 20 years.
  • The number of people aged 90 years and over has increased by a third since the Census of 2001.
  • Younger people are far more likely to contact the council for assistance as a result of homelessness than older people. The homeless applications are received most often from 16-26 year olds, followed by 26-36 year olds and then 36-46 year olds.
  • The areas of the district with the greatest need for affordable homes are the South East, Wakefield North West and Wakefield Rural.

The Challenges

  • Changes to welfare benefits and supported housing funding mean people may not be able to carry on living in their current home / community and have to move to a more affordable home in another area which may be away from their friends or family. Some of these changes will also affect people living in specialist housing such as extra care schemes and supported housing for people with learning disabilities or mental health issues etc. The position of benefit and funding changes are likely to remain uncertain in the short-term.
  • Funding for affordable housing is being targeted towards home ownership products rather than affordable rents which means there could be less of these properties available. This is coupled with a Government push to encourage the Right to Buy for tenants of councils and housing associations.
  • The cost of land and building materials is rising and this can hamper delivery of affordable and specialist housing in sustainable areas.

Service Provision

Strategic Housing works with developers, housing associations and other colleagues to endeavour to supply as many affordable homes as possible across the Wakefield district whilst providing the different property sizes and tenures identified in the Wakefield Strategic Housing Market assessment.

The Wakefield district’s Empty Homes Strategy contributes to tenants benefiting from having a wider choice of properties to rent.

Interest free Tenancy Support Loan provide assistance for tenants to help bridge the gap for the first housing benefit payment and or rent deposit bond for private sector landlords accredited by the Council.
The Wakefield Responsible Landlords scheme, improving access to the Private Rented Sector for homeless & potentially homeless households.

Strategic Housing work with Family Services to look into housing need for the following groups, people with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, mental health issues, young people, older people and homelessness, and endeavour to meet the need identified in partnership with housing associations.

Strategic Housing and Family Services work with housing association partners to ensure specialist properties continue to be allocated to those with the most appropriate need.

The Wakefield district is recognised as an area where there is good interagency partnership working around the provision of appropriate, affordable and adaptable homes. A prime example of this being the regular HASP meeting held to discuss new social housing developments.

Further Information

Housing Market (JSNA) 

Housing and Council Tax (JSNA)

Housing and Transport (JSNA)

National Planning Policy Framework

Lifetime Homes

Wakefield Strategic Housing Market Assessment (2016)

Loneliness and Social Isolation Factsheet (2019)