Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: "Overcrowding is a huge blight on children’s lives, with devastating consequences for their health, education and future chances. It is simply unacceptable for this antiquated standard to remain in place, allowing kitchens and living rooms to be considered as acceptable places for children to sleep.
"After six years in which the Government has failed to keep its promise, we urgently need a uniform statutory standard for England which delivers a modern understanding of space and privacy, together with significant resources to end this hidden part of our housing crisis.
"Investment in health and education is a false economy if children are being brought up in cramped conditions, more vulnerable to health problems and unable to find space to do their homework."
Part of the Government’s defence for failing to update the standard is that it has provided £15million over three years to support local authorities to tackle overcrowding. Yet this equates to only £32 a year for each overcrowded family in the social rented sector.
The Government response also highlighted its commitment to ensure that a third of new affordable homes over the next year have three or more bedrooms.
But Shelter is warning that with house building at its lowest level since 1946 and less than a quarter (23%) of affordable homes built last year being family-sized, this target could take much longer to achieve.
Robb concluded: "Shelter is calling on all political parties to make tackling overcrowding a priority in the next parliament. This means urgently updating the standard, delivering significantly more family-sized homes, and increasing funding to stop the terrible impact overcrowding has on children’s lives."
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