Larger homes key to cracking capital’s overcrowding

Overcrowding is having major impacts on the lives, health and wellbeing of the 102,000 households living in unacceptably cramped conditions in the capital’s social rented sector, with 11,000 severely overcrowded households particularly badly affected. The Mayor’s aim to halve severe overcrowding to fewer than 5,500 households is backed by London Councils, which represents London’s boroughs, and the G15 group of leading London housing associations.

The action plan outlines the many steps being taken to make the best use of London’s existing housing stock, and reveals that the Mayor is on track to meet challenging targets on delivering much-needed family-sized homes.  39 per cent of the new social rented housing funded in the last two years had three or more bedrooms, with the Mayor funding almost three times more family-sized homes for social rent than were funded in the previous investment round.

Promoting best practice from the successful measures already being pursued in London, the action plan sets out a range of initiatives that the Mayor would like to see adopted throughout the capital, including:

•     enabling underoccupiers who wish to do so to downsize, freeing up homes for overcrowded families

•     creating more opportunities for tenants to move out of London, releasing over 500 bedrooms each year

•     making existing social rented homes larger, through extensions and conversions

•     increasing opportunities for social tenants to move into more suitably sized private sector homes.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said:

“Severe overcrowding is a blight which can have devastating consequences for Londoners, young and old, impacting on health, stymieing education and affecting employment prospects.

“Working together, we are making great strides in making better use of the city’s housing stock through extensions and conversions, as well as delivering a record number of affordable family- sized homes for those who are most in need.

“It is crucial that as well as delivering more social housing we also deliver larger, better quality homes for social rent. This is why we have prioritised delivering family-sized social housing to rebalance the propensity for smaller homes over the last decade.”

Chairman of the G15 group of London housing associations, Stephen Howlett, said:

“Overcrowding is one of the most difficult issues faced by some residents of housing associations in London. There are just not enough larger family homes available to meet people’s needs.

“G15 housing associations are making very real efforts to tackle this issue and very much welcome the focus that the report is giving on collaborative working with London Councils.”

London Councils’ Chairman Jules Pipe said:

“Boroughs are committed to tackling the huge problem of overcrowding in the capital, where 207,000 households live in overcrowded conditions.

“All of London’s boroughs have been involved in the government’s ongoing overcrowding pathfinder programme to support local authorities’ efforts to develop innovative and effective ways to tackle the problem. 

“We welcome the Mayor’s commitment to this very important issue and look forward to working together in future to improve the quality of life of thousands of Londoners.”

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