News

One million Londoners living in overcrowded homes

National Housing Federation (NHF) data show 254,806 families in capital living in overcrowded accommodation, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Overcrowding (credit Cinzia D'Ambrosi - National Housing Federation)
credit Cinzia D’Ambrosi/National Housing Federation

More than one million Londoners are living in overcrowded homes, analysis reveals.

Figures sourced by the National Housing Federation (NHF) have found that some 254,806 families in the capital are living in overcrowded accommodation.

Those families comprise 1,028,097 people, including 560,729 children – all of whom are living in homes which fail the government’s so-called ‘bedroom standard’.

The standard is used to work out the number of bedrooms needed for a family to live with a comfortable amount of space and privacy, calculated according to the composition of the household in terms of age, sex and relationships.

It states that an adult couple should have their own bedroom, with the same applying to a single family member aged 16 and over. Two adolescents (aged 10-15) sharing a bedroom does not breach the standard, so long as those adolescents are of the same sex.

Across England, analysis by the NHF has found that some 3,409,216 people are living in households which fail to meet the standard, with London accounting for 30% of those people – despite only comprising about 16% of the population of England.

England-wide polling commissioned by the NHF and conducted by Savanta found that parents in 53% of overcrowded homes worry their children are too embarrassed to bring friends home, and that in 48% of overcrowded homes, children struggle to do their homework because of the lack of space.


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Kate Henderson, the NHF’s chief executive said: “The cost of renting or buying a home in London is higher than any other part of the country and this means that for families on low incomes, social housing is most likely the only type of home they can afford to live in.

“A severe shortage of social homes means that low-income families in London are twice as likely to be overcrowded, as well as being at greater risk of living in poverty or becoming homeless.

“As a country, we are failing these families and these children and this must stop. We need an urgent, long-term, national plan aimed at drastically increasing the number of affordable and social homes in London and across England.”

A spokesperson at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “It’s unacceptable for anyone to be living in an overcrowded home and councils have a duty to find people living in these conditions somewhere fit for purpose.

“To ease pressures, we are increasing the supply of affordable housing. Our £11.5billion affordable homes programme will deliver thousands of affordable homes for both rent and to buy right across the country.”

A spokesperson for London mayor Sadiq Khan added: “Overcrowded housing is an urgent national issue that the mayor is tackling with all the powers at his disposal.

“He is supporting councils to increase their social housing stock and reduce their reliance on temporary accommodation, as well as facilitating the development of larger homes. He is also delivering record-breaking levels of affordable homebuilding, including the highest level of council homebuilding since the 1970s.

“However, the mayor and London boroughs can only do so much to tackle this problem without the right support from the government. In particular, it is vital that ministers back London with the £4.9bn a year that the capital requires to deliver the affordable homes Londoners need.”


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