Everyone needs a decent, safe home with enough space to eat, sleep and do homework. Yet, the government’s lack of investment in social housing over the last decade has meant hundreds of thousands of people spent lockdown in overcrowded social homes.
Our new analysis shows that a chronic lack of social housebuilding has left 1.5 million people crammed into overcrowded and unsuitable social homes. This is a staggering increase of 467,000 people in the last five years.
This comes after decades of underinvestment in social housing – in 2009, 43,000 social homes were built. Last year, only 7,000.
Fewer social homes = more overcrowding.
In the last 20 years alone, over 700,000 social homes have been sold. Nearly 190,000 have been demolished. Only 385,000 have been completed. That’s a net loss of over half a million homes. In the ’80s there were 5.4 million households in social homes, but this has dropped by 1.4 million since then.
Because of this lack of homes, families often spend years bidding for bigger properties without success. There simply aren’t enough of them, leaving whole families living in one bedroom – from babies through to teenagers, alongside their parents.
One mum told us: “I have lived in my 1 bed council flat with my 2 children girl aged 6 and boy soon 11 for 9 years… I have bid for over 100 properties. Sometimes weeks to months pass without any properties being advertised.”
Overcrowding puts a strain on people’s physical and mental health. It can also lead to poor conditions in the home like mould and damp. Without a place for children to do their homework, for parents to relax or for teenagers to enjoy some privacy, family relationships are under huge stress. And this overcrowding intensified during lockdown.
A suitable home with enough room is essential for people to build their lives and children to thrive. But our analysis has shown that 730,000 children live in overcrowded social housing – an increase of almost 36% in the last five years.
This has appalling impacts on their education and life chances. Here’s what two mums told us about what overcrowding means to them:
“my youngest child who is 8 years old, has never had his own bed”
“I feel like I have failed my kids not giving them a proper home and stability. I have to put a mattress in the living room every night on the floor to sleep”
To make sure that everyone gets a home that is right for their family, we need to build 90,000 social homes every year.
The pandemic left many of us feeling trapped in our homes, but it’s been particularly challenging for families in overcrowded social housing. As we move beyond the pandemic, we are calling on the government to increase the number of homes it delivers. This is what the country desperately needs to lift children and their families out of cramped, overcrowded accommodation.
You can help us call on the government. Sign our petition and share these new statistics to raise awareness of this overcrowding scandal.