1 Full house? How overcrowded housing affects families Shelter 2005. Research by Liam Reynolds Policy recommendations by Nicola Robinson All photographs by Claudia Janke except where indicated. To protect the identity of the people mentioned in this report, models have ?????'. been used in photographs and names have been changed. My daughter suffers severe asthma attacks due to the overcrowding . Every month she misses one, two, or three weeks from school.'. 2 Full house?: How overcrowded housing affects families ???????.'. Full house?: How overcrowded housing affects families 3. I am very stressed and depressed and ?
2 ????'. had my baby three months early because of the stress.'. Photo: Nick David 4 Full house?: How overcrowded housing affects families Contents Foreword 7. Summary 8. Background 10. Detailed findings 13. Overview 13. 1. Sleeping arrangements 14. 2. Family relationships 19. 3. Child development and education 21. 4. Health 22. 5. Room size and storage space 24. 6. Ouside space 25. 7. An urgent need for solutions 26. 8. Black and minority ethnic families 28. 9. Causes of overcrowding as families see them 29. 10. Good practice how councils and RSLs are tackling overcrowding 30. Conclusion 33. Policy recommendations 34.
3 Appendices 38. i) Definitions of overcrowding 38. ii) Summary of findings from Crowded house 39. iii) How respondents compare with all overcrowded families 41. iv) Weighting 42. v) Statistical reliability margin of error 42. vi) Results table 43. vii) Questionnaire 44. Acknowledgements 48. Full house?: How overcrowded housing affects families 5.. there is not enough room for the children ?????'. to study in.'. 6 Full house?: How overcrowded housing affects families Foreword As every parent knows, children need space to play, develop, and do their homework. They also need privacy, especially when they are going through puberty and studying for exams.
4 Adults need space too, to foster healthy relationships with their partners and enable them to care for their families . In twenty-first century Britain, having adequate space in which to live ought to be a realistic expectation. But more than half a million households across the country are overcrowded according to the Government's preferred Bedroom Standard measure (see Appendix i). And the statutory definition of overcrowding , conceived in Victorian times, hasn't been updated since 1935. Our understanding of the need for space and privacy has come a long way since then. But official thinking has lagged behind.
5 For one in 10 children in this country, living conditions have more in common with the Dickensian era, when the statutory definition was first drawn up, than those expected of a modern, thriving nation. Children growing up in social housing have, on average, seven square metres less space in which to play and develop, than the national average. Yet for most, their situation is unrecognised by the law. The research for this report is based on a survey of more than 500 overcrowded households living in social housing , making it the largest study of its kind. Most of those who responded were from average-sized families with one, two or three children crammed into one- or two-bedroom flats.
6 Their testimonies confirm the devastating impact of their living conditions on family relationships, health, and the development and education of children. The Government has finally woken up to this scandal it now recognises the link between overcrowding and child poverty and included new powers to amend the statutory definition of overcrowding in the 2004 housing Act. But meaningful action has been slow in coming. As this report shows, further delay is not an option. Ministers must grasp the nettle and introduce a definition of overcrowding that reflects a modern understanding of the need for space and privacy.
7 As a matter of urgency, they must also invest in the family-sized affordable homes that are so desperately needed. Adam Sampson Director of Shelter Full house?: How overcrowded housing affects families 7. Summary The experiences of 505 overcrowded families including 152 classed as severely Certain days of overcrowded according to Government standards form the basis of this report, the month the which reveals the often shocking realities of living in overcrowded housing . girls don't want The findings are presented through facts, figures, and quotes from the families to be in a bed themselves. A few of the families responding to Shelter's survey were also contacted by telephone for a more in-depth interview about the effects of overcrowding .
8 Their stories with their brother feature in this report as case studies. so they sleep in the front '. Sleeping arrangements Research into sleeping arrangements produced some of this report's uneasiest reading. Almost all overcrowded families who responded said they were forced to adopt uncomfortable or irregular sleeping arrangements. Fifteen per cent of written comments from families said that sleeping arrangements changed regularly, sometimes on a nightly basis. And this situation became particularly difficult when children of different sexes and ages were living together. Three-quarters (74 per cent) of the overcrowded families had children sharing a bedroom with a parent or parents.
9 More than a quarter (27 per cent) had children sleeping in living or dining rooms and this rose to 52 per cent among severely overcrowded families . One in 10 families were forced to pair teenagers of opposite sexes in the same bedroom a figure that rose to one in five (19 per cent) among severely overcrowded families . Sharing and changing bedrooms caused disruption to sleep on a wide scale. Three-quarters of families strongly agreed that their sleep was regularly disturbed because of their living conditions. The chaotic sleeping arrangements were an underlying cause of many other effects of overcrowding .
10 These effects fell into three broad categories: family relationships, child development and education, and health. Family relationships Strong agreement that overcrowding harmed family relationships stood at 77 per Out of 14 tick boxes about the possible effects of overcrowding , a lack of privacy was the one that received the highest rate of strong agreement with 92 per cent of overcrowded families selecting it. Eighty-one per cent strongly agreed that overcrowding caused fighting and arguing among their children. Child development and education Seventy-one per cent of families strongly agreed that overcrowding was a damaging influence on their children's education and For 81 per cent of families there wasn't enough room for their children to play, and seven out of 10 (70 per cent) said that overcrowding made it difficult for their children to study.