Crowded out

Britain's housing crisis condemns thousands of families to overcrowded homes

27th August 2019

A growing number of families are being forced to share beds and even sleep in kitchens or hallways as a result of a deepening housing crisis, a new report says.

A severe shortage of housing has left one in 10 children living in homes that are deemed too small, around 96,000 more than there were a decade ago. 

The research from the National Housing Federation reveals that 1.3m children from over 600,000 families lived in overcrowded conditions, including 130,000 families forced to live in one-bedroom flats. 

A home is deemed “overcrowded” if a child has to share a bedroom with two or more other children, sleep in the same room as their parents or share with a teenager of the opposite sex.

The report also details the conditions that families have to contend with as a result of overcrowding. According to a poll carried out by ComRes, as many as 627,000 children are forced to share a bedroom with their parents, while in half of those cases parents and children are forced to share a bed. 

A home should be an anchor against being swept into poverty

This is likely to have significant knock-on effects for other aspects of life, both for all members of the family. About half of the children said that they struggle to do their homework because they lack the space, while there is a concern from parents that their children aren’t coming home because of how overcrowded the space is.

The federation, which represents housing associations in England, believes that these record numbers are a result of the lack of affordable and social housing in England. It estimates that the country needs 145,000 new social homes every year to meet demand, but last year only 6,000 social-rented homes were built as a result of Government cuts. 

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said that the report “shows yet another devastating impact of the broken housing market. All across the country, whole families squeeze into one-bedroom flats, children sleep three to a bed, and parents are forced to spend their night in the kitchen or a hallway.”

This can be fixed if we invest in building the low cost rented homes which low income families rely on

In response to the report, Darren Baxter, housing policy and partnerships manager for the Joseph Rowntree added, “A home should be an anchor against being swept into poverty but for parents bringing up children in overcrowded conditions it adds an extra strain. 

“This can be fixed if we invest in building the low cost rented homes which low income families rely on and which can be their stepping stone to a better life.”

27th August 2019