Social housing plagued by overcrowding

1 Feb 19

Record levels of overcrowding in the social housing sector mean that about 300,000 households are living in homes with insufficient space.

Government figures released yesterday reveal the highest levels of overcrowding since they began to collect official records 24 years ago.

The English Housing Survey also highlights serious overcrowding in the private rented sector where  6% of households – more than a quarter of a million – have too little space, the second highest level recorded since 1996.

The survey paints a bleak picture of social housing in the UK, noting that in 2017 13% of dwellings in the social rented sector failed to meet the Decent Homes Standard.

It said the proportion of overcrowded social rented households is growing – rising from 7% to 8% between 2016–17 and 2017–18.

The pattern of social housing – which accounts for 4 million households – has changed dramatically in recent decades with local authorities renting to far fewer families, according to the survey.

In 2008-09, the social rented sector accounted for 18% of households with 9% (2.0 million) renting from housing associations and 9% (1.9 million) renting from local authorities. In 2017-18, 10% (2.4 million) rented from housing associations, 7% (1.6 million) from local authorities.

A report by social housing commission of the homelessness charity Shelter earlier this month called for the creation of 3.1 million new homes, extending the offer of social housing to many more people.

“It’s no coincidence that the number of people trapped in expensive and unstable private renting is still incredibly high, while the supply of new social homes has become almost frozen,” said Polly Neate chief executive of the housing charity Shelter.

“The private renting market is full to bursting, and that comes with a heavy price tag.

“From the parents at their wits end bringing up their children in short-term rentals where they can be asked to move at the drop of a hat, to the older, retired renters who live in constant fear of the next rent hike.”

This week, government data revealed that the number of people sleeping rough on England’s streets has risen by 165% since 2010.

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