1 million children trapped in overcrowded housing

Living in confined conditions has a devastating effect on family life, especially children’s safety and general health. Children in overcrowded housing are up to 10 times more likely to contract meningitis than children in general.

The current legal definition of overcrowding, which remains unchanged since 1935, does not count children under one-year-old as a person living in the property and considers kitchens and living rooms as acceptable places to sleep. Under the current legal standard, a family of four living in a one-bedroom flat would not be classed as living in overcrowded accommodation.

There are already thousands of overcrowded families on the local authority housing waiting lists, in desperate need of an affordable family-sized home. Even more worryingly, recent Local Government Association estimates predict waiting lists will rise to top two million by 2011.

Sam Younger, Shelter’s Chief Executive, said: "For too long the issue of children living in overcrowded housing has been a hidden problem.

"There is no doubt that overcrowding has a massive impact on children’s health, safety and future prospects and can cause depression for parents struggling to cope in cramped conditions. With many children unable to study due to a lack of space, the impact of overcrowding is robbing them of an education and a fair chance in life.

"Government must ensure enough affordable family-sized homes are built and introduce an updated definition of overcrowding that reflects a modern need for space and privacy."

Jacqueline Pennant lives in a small two-bedroom house in Wandsworth, with her three children. Due to her cramped conditions her daughter sleeps in her bed and her younger son sleeps on a make-shift bed on the floor of her bedroom.

She says: "My youngest has chronic asthma, which is made worse by sleeping so low to the ground and he has been in hospital a few times with the condition.

"My daughter shares a bed with me, which is not only inappropriate at her age, but incredibly painful for me. We can’t carry on living in these conditions, my children are growing up fast and this is no way for them to live. I am so worried about the future."

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0 thoughts on “1 million children trapped in overcrowded housing

  1. Major Landlord

    I love children, and I don’t want to appear heartless. I also respect people who have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own. But WHY do so many people keep on having more and more children when they know they must look to others to support them and provide ever larger houses? It seems that we have a whole new generation of people in our midst who take no responsibility for their own actions, and expect others to foot the bill for their mistakes.

    In my time, you didn’t even consider starting a family if you knew you could not support them. That meant lbeing sutre you could live on one salary for some years, providing the basic necessities, and not relying upon state handouts.

    I don’t think we have a shortage of affordable housing, or adeqate family housing. What we have is an excess of people who think it’s OK to sponge off society, and send the bill for their actions to the hard-working, long-suffering unthanked masses who support the welfare state with their taxes. We also have an excess of woolly-headed liberals whose well-intentioned generosity and forbearance continues to support and nurture outr parasitic class. Lesson of nature: too many parasites feeding off one host eventually kills it, then all the parasites die too.

  2. jenny page

    I do agree with the fact there are far too many people living off the state and claiming beniefits that they are not entitled to, although saying that we do not claim any type of beniefit, my husband works all the hours under the sun to provide for my three children and myself. I worked before I had children and right up until I had my second child.
    We live in a two bedroom house with a housing assosiation where we are overcrowded. Why should I not be entitled to be re-housed when there are asylum seekers and other imergrants getting first choices to houses. Why are this group of people being treated as it seems as though they are more entitled than myself when both my husband and myself have worked and tryed do the best for our children. Why should I have to pay over £1000 pcm on a property. We can’t get on the property ladder, years ago houses were alot cheaper and easier to obtain.