National Housing Federation calls for urgent build programme to address overcrowding problem

social housing

Kate Henderson says there are not enough social and affordable homes in England

A lack of affordable housing in England means more than 310,000 children in England are forced to share beds with other family members, according to the National Housing Federation.  

A survey of 207 overcrowded households, carried out by Savanta as part of the report released by the Federation today, also found that 41% of children or teenagers were sharing a bedroom with an adult. And 70% of the survey respondents said they experienced both poor mental and poor physical health because of overcrowding.

The NHF’s analysis of English Survey data concluded that about two million children from 746,000 families were likely to be living in cramped conditions with no personal space. 

People from ethnic minority backgrounds were also three times more likely to be affected by overcrowding than white households, the research found. 

Kate Henderson, chief executive at the National Housing Federation, said: “Overcrowding is a direct result of our broken housing system, caused by underfunding by successive governments and a failure to prioritise building new homes for people on low incomes. 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 across England.”

She added that overcrowded homes could have a “devastating impact on a child’s self-esteem, wellbeing, and future life changes, as well as affecting family relationships and making it harder for parents to nurture their child’s growth”.

The Savanta survey also showed a quarter of parents often have to sleep in a living room, bathroom, hallway or kitchen because of a lack bedrooms. And 48% of children struggle to do their homework because they do not have enough space. 

Government statistics show last year only 7,528 social rent homes were built, 81% fewer than in 2010. The government cut funding for affordable housing by 63% in 2010. 

The National Housing Federation and charity Crisis in 2018 said 340,000 homes need to be built annually until 2031 to fill a four-million-home shortage in England. Just last week prime minister Rishi Sunak said he agreed to water down housing targets in December because of concern over building homes from ‘thousands’ of Tory grass roots members.

Housing Today is calling for the government to recommit to its target of building 300,000 new homes a year.