Housing is more than just “bricks and mortar”.  Housing designed and built appropriate to needs is essential to healthy individuals and communities.  Poor quality housing has negative effects on both physical and mental health, resulting in increased levels of accident, illness and direct costs to the health service.  Housing is one of the dimensions used to measure the extent to which people living in a certain area or neighbourhood are deprived as part of the Index of Multiple Deprivation.

Poor quality housing affects those most vulnerable in society, and is more likely to adversely affect the young, elderly and those with mental or physical disabilities. Impacts relate to not only physical injury but additionally mental health and chronic conditions such as asthma. With an ageing population it is likely that the impact of poor quality housing will increase in the future.

Key inequalities and risk factors

Vulnerable groups (the elderly, young and those suffering from mental and physical ill-health) are particularly at risk. These are the groups also most likely to experience poverty, and with poverty closely linked to poor housing a cycle they may become locked into poor quality housing that adversely affects existing health conditions (Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology 2011).

Tenants of housing associations include households who experience some form of inequality or vulnerability, for example, higher rates of health inequalities, worklessness, people categorised as not in education, employment or training (NEET), crime, anti-social behaviour – all of which are additional domains of deprivation.

According to government data, over a fifth of the poorest 10% of households rent privately. Lower incomes limits housing choices and a higher proportion of income is paid in rent compared to other tenancies, compounding cycles of poverty. Higher rent does not guarantee higher quality – the most typical problems are around ‘repairs and maintenance’, ‘rents and other charges’ and ‘tenancy deposit protection’.  Lack of secure, long-term tenure means tenants cannot access other markets, e.g. switching energy or telecoms supplier to save money.  The disruption of eviction or moving house is destabilising for families and children, can prevent or disrupt support networks, limit social connectivity and be cause for mental and emotional distress.


According to ROSPA certain groups are vulnerable to accidents in the home:

  • Children under the age of five and people over 65 (particularly those over 75) are most likely to have an accident at home
  • Falls are the most common accidents, which can cause serious injury at any time of life. The risk increases with age – more detailed information on falls is available in a separate JSNA section and information on Falls Prevention including keeping active and healthy is available on the Public Health Portal.
  • More women than men over the age of 65 die as the result of an accident in the home
  • Boys have more accidents than girls

People with learning disabilities or mental health issues – Maintaining settled accommodation and providing social care in this environment promotes personalisation and quality of life, reduces the risk of social exclusion and prevents the need to readmit people into hospital or more costly residential care and ensures a positive experience of social care.

Facts, figures and trends

LGA Inform published an online summary of a detailed ward level report on housing, covering population, housing affordability and availability, housing conditions and disease and mortality (accessed 25/04/2016).

Information, advice and signposting support

Bracknell Forest Council

Councils have a strategic role in housing, working with partners to ensure that current and future housing needs are met in the local area.

The council’s Housing Equalities Monitoring Report 2014/15 gives high-level information on different populations accessing welfare and housing services:

  • Homelessness and Homeless Prevention
  • Housing Register – BFCMyChoice
  • Shared Ownership (Homebuy)
  • Nominations to Housing Associations
  • Assistance with securing private sector tenancies

The Welfare and Housing Service gives housing advice and assistance in confidence on a wide range of issues including income maximisation, homelessness prevention, tenancy rights, domestic violence and so on.  The service works closely with colleagues in other teams and agencies such as the Community Mental Health Team, the Community Team for People with Learning Disabilities, Occupational Therapists, Children Services, and so on (particularly when dealing with vulnerable applicants).

National legislation gives local authorities a wide range of powers to deal with poor housing conditions. It includes the housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS) which is used to evaluate the potential risks to health and safety to deficiencies identified within homes. The legislation also includes provision for licensing Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) where some of the worst housing conditions are often found.

In Bracknell Forest we respond to complaints regarding housing standards and work closely with the local registered social landlords, and other landlords to ensure that the minimum standards are met. Home adaptations for disabled residents or the elderly are administered and funded  through either Disabled Facilities Grants or through a flexible home loan, ensuring that residents remain within their own home as long as possible, in 2012-13 adaptations were provided in 80 homes across the Borough for disabled people.

Currently, we respond to complaints regarding housing conditions and are unable to provide additional advisory visits at landlords’ request. We license HMOs which are covered by the national mandatory scheme i.e. 3 storey occupied by 5 or more unrelated persons. Our resources are focused on the highest risk housing conditions and responding to complaints.

The council also provides information and support to people with disabilities, long-term conditions and older people to help with staying in their own home.

Planning for new homes

As an attractive area to live with good transport links and future opportunities arising from the regeneration of Bracknell Town Centre, there is increasing demand for new homes in the area.

The Council’s adopted Core Strategy (2008) makes provision for the phased delivery of  11,139 dwellings in the borough for the period 2006 – 2026 comprising 572 dwellings per annum (dpa) up to March 2017 and 539 dpa in subsequent years. The Site Allocations Local Plan (2013) allocated sites to meet this requirement.

Since the adoption of the Core Strategy in 2008, national planning policy has changed. The National Planning Policy Framework was published in 2012 and states that a Local Plan must meet the full objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing in an area. There is also a requirement to identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide five years worth of housing against a housing requirement with an additional appropriate buffer in the interests of choice and competition in the market for land. The calculation of the objective assessment of needs (OAN) is undertaken in a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA).

The Berkshire (including South Bucks) SHMAincludes Bracknell Forest and was published in February 2016. This states that the OAN for Bracknell Forest is 635 dwellings per year over the period 2013 – 2036. This will form an important part of the evidence base of a new Local Plan which will include a new housing target and allocate sites to meet that figure.

Silva Homes

The majority of the affordable housing stock in Bracknell Forest is owned and managed by a registered partner (housing association) called Silvia Homes.

Housing Associations play an important role in the provision of affordable housing and contribute to reducing health inequality by providing a range of local preventative health and wellbeing improvement programmes, supporting tenants to access services and signposting tenants to specialist services to promote wellbeing and independence.

Silvia Homes provides a tenancy sustainment service which supports tenants with managing their finances, advising on the availability of adaptations, help at home, homes safety, job tips, insurance, support for young people and families, activities and events for older people to reduce social exclusion and are also involved in an environmental landshare scheme to help people with mental health difficulties.

Watch this short video to find out more about Silvia Homes’ role as a housing association.

Housing by type

Bracknell Forest has a mixed housing economy of owner occupied, privately rented, affordable rent and low cost home ownership, residential care and extra care housing.

Data from the last censure in 2011 showed that in Bracknell Forest, 0.2% of dwellings were owned by the authority, compared with an average of 7.1%  for England. Another 16.4% were provided by private registered providers such as housing associations. The chart below generated by LG Inform Plus (accessed 4 July 2016) shows rental households in borough wards:

Household census 2011

Housing availability

Affordable Housing

The Council holds a housing register of households wanting to access affordable housing. The number of households on Bracknell Forest’s housing register in 2015/16 was 2,260 households. This was a fall from the previous period when there were 2,282 households on the waiting list. The 2015/16 figure gives a rate of 46.1 per 1,000 households compared to 47.5 per thousand in 2014/15 and 51.6 per 1,000 households nationally for 2015/16.

Households on housing register 2014/15 - 2015/16

People with mental health issues

The Mental Health Foundation states that safe and secure accommodation is vital for good mental and physical health. Housing can allow people to live in safety, security, peace and dignity and can providing a route into health and other services.

Housing service commissioners and providers have a key role in improving mental health outcomes – providing both settled housing and the services people need to maintain their homes as independently as possible. They can support people at risk of mental ill health to build resilience, as well as providing specialist support for people with mental health problems. More detailed information can be found in the Social Care / Personalisation chapter of the JSNA.

People with learning disabilities

Government policy is that people with a learning disability should lead their lives like any other person, with the same opportunities and responsibilities, including living independently. The number of adults with a learning disability in settled accommodation is a measure in the national public health outcomes framework intended to increase choice and independence and reduce the risk of social exclusion. More detailed information can be found in the Social Care / Personalisation chapter of the JSNA.

Veteran households

Supporting existing veterans and those in transition back to the community is a national priority set out in the Operating Plan for England 2012-13 (Department of Health, 2011). Needs of veterans are similar to any other person or family relocating, with the exception that high levels of housing support need may be expected in a small group with major disabilities.  Bracknell Forest Council makes support available to veteran households who can apply to join the housing register up to 5 years after discharge, as can bereaved spouses and civil partners of members of the Armed Forces leaving Services Family Accommodation following the death of their spouse or partner, and serving or former members of the Reserve Forces who need to move because of a serious injury, medical condition or disability sustained as a result.  More detail on veterans is set out in a separate JSNA chapter.

Temporary accommodation and homelessness

Homelessness is associated with severe poverty and is a social determinant of health. It is also associated with adverse health, education and social outcomes, particularly for children. To be deemed statutorily homeless a household must have become unintentionally homeless and must be considered to be in priority need. As such, statutorily homeless households include some of the most vulnerable and needy members of our communities. Preventing and tackling the causes of homelessness requires sustained and joined-up interventions by central and local government, health and social care and the voluntary sector.

The council has a legal duty to help individuals and families who are homeless or are about to lose their home and meet the qualifying criteria. The council’s Welfare and Housing service is responsible for assessing housing need and advising on the housing options that may be available to a household, including the provision of emergency accommodation in cases where the Council has a statutory homeless duty.

The number of homeless people eligible for support under the duty per thousand population between 2013/14 and 2015/16 is as follows:

Eligible homeless people not in priority need 2013/14 - 2015/16

Living in temporary accommodation can be unsettling, particularly if a household has to move to an  area with which they are unfamiliar.  Over the past three periods, Bracknell Forest has continued to have a  smaller proportion of people living in temporary accommodation than the England rates:

Households in temporary accommodation 2013/14 - 2015/16

Rough sleepers

In England, the autumn 2016 total number of rough sleepers counted and estimated is 4,134. This is up 565 (16%) from the autumn 2015 total of 3,569.

National figures indicate that females, under 25s and non-UK EU nationals are particularly prevalent in homelessness figures, but as missing data relates to nationality, the true number of non-UK EU rough sleepers is will be higher than the numbers reported. Figures for non-UK EU nationals are higher in London than outside London. The data tables show that in Bracknell Forest there were 10 individuals recorded as rough sleepers, 9 of which were men, non were recorded under 25 or of non-UK EU or outside EU nationality. This represents a rough sleeping rate of 0.2 people per 1,000 households which is just above the national figure of 0.18. The number of rough sleepers has increased by 3% in London and 21% in the rest of England since autumn 2015.

Accurately counting or estimating the number of rough sleepers within the area of a local authority is inherently difficult.  The count is undertaken in accordance with specific guidelines in a single evening making it difficult to cover the entire geographical area, rough sleepers bed down at different times and some locations may be difficult or unsafe for those conducting the count to access.


Overcrowded homes can contribute to mental stress and reduce general wellbeing. Research has shown that children who live in poor or overcrowded conditions are more likely to have respiratory problems, to be at risk of infections, and have mental health problems. Housing that is in poor condition or overcrowded also threatens children’s safety (Shelter, 2006).

As an indication of housing need, occupancy rating provides a measure of whether a household’s accommodation is overcrowded or under occupied. An occupancy rating of -1 implies that a household has one fewer rooms/bedrooms than required. In Bracknell Forest, 1.5% of households have an occupancy rating of -2 or less, compared to 2.3% in England overall. Within Bracknell Forest, Wildridings and Central ward has the highest proportion of households with an occupancy rating of -2 or less at 3.9%.

Occupancy rating (rooms)

Source: LGA Inform Plus based on ONS Census 2001 data (accessed 25 April 2016)

Housing condition

Decent Homes Standard

Nationally the Decent Homes Standard has been applied both to public and private sector housing since 2000. All Registered Social Landlords are responsible for their own housing stock as are people in the private rented sector.  Help is offered by the council to residents and landlords to ensure homes are safe and hazard free.

Keeping people safe

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (accessed 1 July 2016) estimate that there are approximately 6,000 deaths as a result of an accident within the home, with more accidents happening in the home than anywhere else.  The cost to society of UK home accident injuries has been estimated at £45.63billion (£45,630million) annually (ROSPA, accessed 4 July 2016)

The councils Environmental Protection Team responds to requests for assistance, advice and information about housing conditions from customers living in homes they rent from a landlord or that they own. Requests can also come from interested third parties such as parents of students in rented homes or from occupiers of neighbouring properties.

The Bracknell Forest falls service will also help people assess the risks and hazards in their homes in order to prevent and reduce falls.  Advice on adaptations needed to the home can also be given. A number of preventative measures including keeping active and staying well are set out on the Public Health Portal.

Support for landlords

The council has an accreditation scheme for local landlords in partnership with the National Landlords Association (NLA). Accredited landlords may be eligible for a home loan to undertake improvements to their rental property and therefore reduce risks of harm for tenants. Landlords are also entitled to reduced licensing fees for houses in multiple occupation.

Excess winter deaths

Evidence shows that there is a link between cold and damp housing and cold–related deaths, with up to  44,000 (2014/15) additional (excess winter) deaths reported each year, with the elderly and vulnerable particularly susceptible. Cold homes are linked to increased risk of cardiovascular, respiratory and rheumatoid diseases, as well as hypothermia and poorer mental health.  See the chapter on excess winter deaths for more detailed information on how to improve heating and insulation in homes.


With an increasing elderly population home adaptations are becoming a more cost effective method of ensuring elderly and vulnerable people are adequately housed and supported in their homes to remain independent for longer.  Appropriate adaptation provides a safer environment, but maintaining independence reduces the need for residential care and the council web page – Help with staying in your own home – has more information for people with disabilities, long-term conditions and older people.

Want to know more?

Action on sheltered and retirement housing – a checklist for adult social care (EROSH, 2010) – Explains how sheltered and retirement housing plays a preventative role, prolonging independence and self-care by enabling older people to access a range of low level support services that promote their independence and well-being.

Health and housing: worlds apart? (Housing LIN, 2010) – Housing care and support solutions to health challenges and how the sector, working in partnership with health and social care services, can deliver preventative services and reduce the need acute health services and enabled people to return home from hospital sooner.

Help with staying in your own home (Bracknell Forest Council, 2016) – information on housing for people with disabilities, long-term conditions and older people

LGA Inform – an online data set covering housing, population, housing affordability and availability, housing conditions and disease and mortality (accessed 25/04/2016).  It has a public health focus recognising the scope and extent of local government services and reach to improve health outcomes most directly for local populations and planning and in this specific instance, housing, as a key determinant of healthy individuals, community and society.  Some information can also be output at ward level.

Housing Equalities Monitoring Report (Bracknell Forest Council) – equalities monitoring data for the housing and benefits services relating to the Equality Act 2010 protected characteristics groups.

Private sector housing (Bracknell Forest Council, 2016) – information for residents and private renting landlords, and how the council can help people live in safe and hazard free homes and what is available to landlords to help them achieve this.

Safe, warm, decent housing for older people – why it really matters (Housing LIN, 2014) – Establishes the argument for a ‘joined up strategy’ around older people’s housing to future proofing housing for an ageing society, engaging older people in the planning and design of new homes & neighbourhoods, promoting greater choice of specialist and general housing for older people and integrating housing as an issue into the planning of health and care services.

This page was created on 27 February 2014 and updated on 13 February 2017.  Next review date February 2018.

Cite this page:

Bracknell Forest Council. (2017). JSNA – Housing. Available at: jsna.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/people-places/wider-determinants-health/housing (Accessed: dd Mmmm yyyy)

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