Media highlights: 3 – 7 August 2015

 Newspaper stack 

By Steven Fifer, PR Manager for the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) 

Housing in the private rented sector and landlords’ responsibilities to their tenants were the major themes in the news this week. As a reminder, private sector housing is a key concern for the environmental health profession and the CIEH as poor housing conditions can be a major cause of accidents and ill health.

Monday saw news that landlords will now be required to evict tenants who lose the right to live in the UK, end tenancies – sometimes without a court order – when asylum requests fail and also be required to check a migrant's status in advance of agreeing a lease. The proposals are going to be included in the upcoming Immigration Bill and repeat offenders could face up to five years in prison.

The CIEH released a comment to the media on these latest developments as we have fundamental reservations and question why landlords are being asked to do the job of the UK Border Agency. The comment goes on to raise serious questions about the housing options of legal migrants, who might find themselves the victims of further exploitation in the private rented sector with no-where else to turn to.

Later in the week, the Guardian published a story which said that a pilot scheme forcing landlords to check tenants' immigration status 'has failed'. The report goes on to claim that in the nine months since the rules were implemented across the Black Country, only seven landlords have been penalised and the rules may have encouraged discrimination against non-British prospective tenants.

Landlords didn’t get a chance to breathe this week as according to research by safety charity Electrical Safety First, landlords and letting agents are threatening student lives by failing to sort out dangerous electrical problems.

The reaction to the government’s announcement that they are going to cut public health budgets by £200m continues to make the headlines. The Local Government Association has warned that the cuts threaten attempts to reduce levels of obesity, drinking and smoking, and in the Local Government Chronicle there is an interesting article questioning the effectiveness of applying the cuts equally to every authority.

In other news, more than 300,000 households in Lancashire have been advised to boil drinking water after routine tests found "low" traces of the microbial parasite cryptosporidium at Franklaw Water Treatment Works outside Preston. The Health and Social Care Information Centre has also revealed results into smoking behaviour amongst young people in Britain, finding that E-cigarette use by 15-year-olds mirrors the trend for teenagers’ tobacco smoking, generally being higher in the more deprived parts of England.

And to round things off, a Republican presidential hopeful in the USA has demonstrated their technique for cooking bacon – by using the barrel of a machine-gun. It goes without saying that this rather interesting technique goes against best practice for food preparation, as well as health and safety.


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