1 in 4 London children overcrowded

14 July 2011

Boy from London in Shelter's overcrowding film

One in four London children are living in overcrowded homes, new figures reveal, as Shelter calls on the Mayor to do more to tackle the problem.

Our analysis of English Housing Survey figures shows 391,000 children (24 per cent) in London are overcrowded – an 18 per cent rise since 2008.

The biggest rise is in the social rented sector, where 43 per cent of children are overcrowded.

The news comes on the day Shelter launches a short film, ‘A Question for Mr Johnson’.

The film features children talking about the devastating impact overcrowding is having on their education. They're calling on the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to do more to help.

Hidden housing crisis

In 2009, the Mayor set a target to halve severe overcrowding in the capital by 2016. Shelter is warning that the huge surge in overcrowding, expected to increase further when changes to housing benefit start to bite, mean the Mayor’s target is getting further and further off track.

Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said: ‘There’s no doubt that overcrowding is London’s hidden housing crisis. Behind closed doors, hundreds of thousands of children are suffering in cramped conditions that are doing lasting damage to their education and wellbeing.

‘It’s shocking to think that in the twenty-first century this is a problem that is getting worse.’

‘Simply put, unless more is urgently done to tackle overcrowding, many more London children will be robbed of a fair chance in life. We need to see bigger and bolder action from the Mayor or we risk failing a whole generation of London children.’

Is your home overcrowded? Get advice

Making the film

Children from Wilberforce Primary School in Westminster, Central Foundation Girls School in Bow and the Castlehaven Youth Club in Camden helped Shelter make the film.

Wilberforce Primary School became involved in Shelter’s film through Save the Children's 'In My Back Yard' programme, which supports youth groups to develop campaigns affecting change in their local community. The children chose to campaign on overcrowding because it was the issue most affecting their lives.