...By Lola Smith for TDPel Media.
According to research by the National Housing Federation (NHF), more than one million people in London are living in overcrowded homes, with over half of them being children.
The NHF found that there are 254,806 families in the capital living in accommodation that fails to meet the government’s “bedroom standard”, which calculates the required number of bedrooms based on household composition in terms of age, sex, and relationships.
This standard indicates that an adult couple should have their own bedroom, as should a single family member aged 16 and over.
Two adolescents (aged 10-15) sharing a bedroom does not breach the standard as long as they are of the same sex.
London accounts for 30% of the 3,409,216 people across England who are living in homes that do not meet the standard, despite only comprising around 16% of England’s population.
A recent poll by Savanta found that parents in 53% of overcrowded homes worry that their children are too embarrassed to bring friends home, and in 48% of such homes, children struggle to complete homework due to the lack of space.
London’s housing affordability crisis means that social housing is typically the only option for low-income families.
However, the severe shortage of such homes means that these families are twice as likely to be overcrowded.
The NHF’s chief executive, Kate Henderson, has called for an urgent, long-term, national plan to increase the number of affordable and social homes in London and England as a whole.
Government Response to Overcrowded Homes in London
A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities acknowledged that overcrowded homes are unacceptable and that councils have a responsibility to find suitable accommodation for affected residents.
The government has pledged to increase the supply of affordable housing through the £11.5bn Affordable Homes Programme, which aims to provide affordable homes for both renting and buying across the country.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s spokesperson stated that overcrowded housing is an urgent national issue, and that the Mayor is working to increase social housing and reduce reliance on temporary accommodation.
The spokesperson also noted that the Mayor is delivering record levels of affordable homebuilding, including the highest level of council homebuilding since the 1970s.
However, the spokesperson stressed that the problem cannot be tackled without adequate support from the government, including the £4.9bn per year required by London to deliver the affordable homes its residents need.
The figures presented by the NHF demonstrate the extent of London’s housing crisis, particularly for low-income families.
Overcrowding can have severe impacts on the physical and mental health of residents, particularly children.
The government’s Affordable Homes Programme is a positive step, but its ability to address London’s housing issues may be limited, given the scale of the problem.
The NHF’s call for a long-term, national plan to increase the supply of affordable and social homes is therefore timely and necessary.
It is also worth noting that the issue of housing affordability is not unique to London.
Many other cities in the UK are also grappling with a lack of affordable housing, with the cost of renting and buying homes outpacing wage growth in many areas.
The government must therefore ensure that its housing policies address the needs of the country as a whole, rather than just those of London.