London Mayor supports campaign

11 November 2009

Boris Johnson

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has backed Shelter's overcrowding campaign by calling on MPs to show the same concern to the 330,000 London children stuck in overcrowded accommodation as they do for battery farmed chickens.

More than 270 MPs are so outraged by the treatment of chickens that they have signed a parliamentary motion calling for better living conditions for them.

But while MPs are rightly concerned about animal welfare, the Mayor and Shelter are asking the Government to update the overcrowding standard - as promised in 2004.

The call is part of a new campaign by Shelter to end overcrowding and includes launching a petition on the No 10 Downing Street website to pressure the Government to update the standard.

Sign the petition to support the campaign

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: 'We're investing over a £1bn a year to increase the number of family-sized affordable homes in the capital and re-writing the design guide to make sure our homes are fit for more than just hobbits. Yet it's incredible to think that we could, if we wanted to, set standards against legislation passed at time when smoking was advertised as a healthy hobby.

'I applaud the concern of MPs for the welfare of the mighty chicken but I say it’s about time we did the same for the thousands of children in London who are currently living in unfit, cramped conditions and give this legislation a 21st century makeover.'

Shelter director of policy and campaigns, Kay Boycott said: 'The welfare of chickens is extremely important. But the Government must not ignore the wellbeing of the one in five London children forced to live in overcrowded accommodation.'

Ms Boycott added: 'Living in confined conditions has a devastating effect on family life, especially children’s safety, health and education. Children in overcrowded housing are up to 10 times more likely to contract meningitis than other children. We urgently need a definition which reflects a modern understanding of space and privacy.'

Shelter figures show the number of children in overcrowded accommodation in the capital has risen by 28,000 in the last two years to a total of 330,000.

Ms Boycott concluded: 'We welcome the Mayor’s commitment towards delivering more family-sized homes and that 42 per cent of all new social rented homes will have three or more bedrooms. London boroughs must work with the GLA, Government and agencies like Shelter to tackle overcrowding by ensuring enough affordable family-sized homes are built.'