Overcrowding figures up

23 March 2009

Overcrowded family

565,000 households are now living in overcrowded conditions in England, the latest Communities and Local Government (CLG) figures show. That’s 11,000 more overcrowded households than last year.

Shelter research shows that living in overcrowded housing harms the health of children, makes it more difficult for them to study, and causes depression, anxiety and stress in the home.

Adam Sampson, chief executive of Shelter said:

‘Its shocking that in the 21st century we are seeing a rise in the number of people trapped in cramped, squalid conditions that have more in common with the Dickensian era than those of a modern nation.

‘The antiquated overcrowding standard hasn’t changed since 1935 and considers kitchens and living rooms as acceptable places to sleep. The Government pledged 2009 would be the year they updated it so it’s more urgent than ever they keep their word.’

Mr Sampson added; ‘But updating the standard alone will make no difference to these families unless the Government ensures that more family sized homes are urgently delivered on the ground.’

England’s antiquated definition of overcrowding

The definition of overcrowding in England has remained unchanged since its introduction in 1935 and does not accord with modern-day living standards.

Under this definition:

  • A calculation is made to determine whether the property is overcrowded or not. This is complicated, and depends on the age of the occupants, whether they are in relationships and the size of the rooms. A full explanation is here
  • Babies less than a year old are not counted as members of the household
  • Those between one and 10 are counted as half a person
  • Living rooms and large kitchens are acceptable places to sleep

The result is that families with children must endure quite extreme conditions before they’re defined as being ‘overcrowded’.