Government blasted over housing 'failure' as one in ten children living in overcrowded homes

Posted On: 
22nd August 2019

Ministers have been urged to act after a new report found more than one in ten children in England now live in overcrowded conditions.

Labour hit out at the government for failing to invest in new affordable homes
Credit: 
PA

A damning new analysis from the National Housing Federation found that 130,000 families in England are being forced to live in one-bedroom flats as a result of “stark” housing shortages.

According to the group, just 6,000 socially-rented homes were built in 2018 despite at least 145,000 being required to meet demand. 

And they blamed “sharp” government cuts for the shortfall which had left families facing “terrible” living conditions. 

Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, said the figures demonstrated the "devastating impact" of the UK's "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," she said.

“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.”

Meanwhile, the report urged Boris Johnson to increase government spending on affordable housing to £12.8bn annually in a bid to tackle the shortage.

Ms Henderson added: “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 £12.8bn in affordable housing every year, the Government can finally put an end to the country’s housing problem.”

New ComRes polling carried out for the study found almost half of children living in overcrowded homes were forced to share a bedroom with their parents, while a similar number said they struggled to do their homework due to the cramped conditions. 

A further quarter of the adults polled said they had been forced to sleep in kitchens, bathrooms or hallways because they lacked space in bedrooms.

Responding to the figures, Labour's Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey, said: “These figures show the impact of Conservative ministers’ cuts to housing investment at a time when new social housing has never been needed more.

“The country is now building 30,000 fewer social rented homes each year than in 2010, while there are over a million households stuck on council waiting lists."

He added: “Labour will build a million genuinely affordable homes, including the biggest council housing programme in a generation.”

A Government spokesman said: "No child should have to live in an overcrowded or unsafe flat – that’s why we’ve strengthened tenants’ rights so they can hold landlords to account if things aren’t right.

"We’ve helped councils and housing associations to speed up the delivery of more homes, including social housing, through our £9billion affordable homes programme – delivering over 430,000 affordable new homes since 2010."