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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Some Gateshead residents can’t afford to run dehumidifiers to get rid of damp and mould, says councillor

Some Gateshead residents cannot afford to power dehumidifiers to get rid of the mould in their homes, says councillor.

As the council continues to battle dampness and mould in its social housing, with resolved cases rising from 71% to 78% this year, some harbour concerns that council-provided dehumidifiers are too costly to run for more vulnerable tenants. This comes following a council study from January this year which estimated that as many as 12,000 households are fuel-impoverished in Gateshead alone, with 230 disconnected from either gas or electricity.

Cllr Michael McNestry, of Chopwell and Rowlands Gill ward, said: “My other comment is on the damp and mould situation, where we are seeing some tenants, where we put dehumidifiers in that run on electric, and they don’t have enough money to run their own electric, never mind dehumidifiers.

“In the last two cases I’ve dealt with I’ve gone in the house and the de-humidifiers are not on because they cannot afford to run them.  I think we need to have another look at a different solution or if we are going to put dehumidifiers in we need to have a look at the rent structure to compensate somehow.”

Cllr McNestry was informed that the council’s asset, housing management, and social services teams were looking to bring down the running costs across social housing. Measures include searching for government funding to help cover energy costs, installing insulation, and the use of ‘passive intakers’ which blow fresh air throughout properties, alongside funding to run them.

Passive intakers can be operated for around £30 a year, according to council officers.

In addition, Gateshead Council’s service director of repairs and building services Ian McLackland told the council’s housing overview and scrutiny committee damp and mould was such a complex issue it would likely require a report of its own.

Mr McLackland said: “When it’s all coming back to the cost of living and fuel that’s where we signpost to external agencies or within ourselves to see where we can reduce costs.”

Gateshead Council recorded 2,745 cases of mould or damp in its housing stock between November 2022 and September 2023

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