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Research reveals lack of social rented homes in England

A severe shortage of homes is forcing 130,000 families in England to squeeze into one bedroom flats, according to a new report.

The research from the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations in England, not-for-profit landlords to more than six million people, reveals that more than one in ten children in England are living in overcrowded homes.

It says that this comes to a total of around 1.3 million children from more than 600,000 families, who are stuck in overcrowded conditions because there is nowhere else for them to live. Overcrowding in England has now reached record levels, as around 96,000 more children are living in overcrowded homes compared to a decade ago.

Homes are said to be ‘overcrowded’ if a child has to share their bedroom with two or more other children, sleep in the same room as their parents, or share with a teenager of the opposite sex.

The new report also includes a poll, carried out by ComRes for the National Housing Federation, showing the living conditions overcrowded families often experience:
Just under half of children in overcrowded homes are forced to share a bedroom with their parents.

In more than a quarter of overcrowded homes, children even have to share a bed with a parent or sibling, and more than a quarter of parents in overcrowded homes are often forced to sleep in kitchens, bathrooms or hallways because of the lack of space.

It also says that more than half of parents in overcrowded homes worry that their children aren’t coming home because of how overcrowded it is and around half of children in overcrowded homes struggle to do their homework because of the lack of space.

The report says that the main cause of overcrowding is the stark lack of housing in England, especially social housing which means growing families have nowhere affordable to move to and the country needs around 145,000 new social homes every year, including 90,000 for social rent. Last year only 6,000 social rented homes were built, as a result of sharp Government cuts to funding for new social housing in 2010.

The National Housing Federation is calling on the Government to invest £12.8 billion every year for the next decade in building new social homes, bringing spending levels back to those last seen under Churchill’s government in the early 1950s.

It says that this would effectively end the housing crisis, kick starting a nationwide housebuilding boom of around 145,000 new social homes to rent and shared ownership properties to buy every year.

‘This research shows yet another devastating impact of the broken housing market. All across the country, whole families squeeze into one bedroom flats, children sleep three to a bed, and parents are forced to spend their night in the kitchen or a hallway,’ said Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation.

‘This is having a huge impact on more than a million children, seriously affecting their start in life. For decades, successive governments have failed to invest in social housing, and families are paying the price. The only way to fix the problem is by building enough social housing, which requires a radical public spending programme. There is simply no other way. By investing £12.8 billion in affordable housing every year, the Government can finally put an end to the country’s housing problem,’ she added.