Charity Warns Of Overcrowded Homes

Almost one million children are trapped in overcrowded living conditions in England, a housing charity warned. Shelter said Government figures showed 955,000 youngsters are living in “cramped, squalid” housing, a rise of 50,000 on three years ago.

{mosimage}The charity is calling on the Government to update current legislation on overcrowding, which does not take into account infants under one year old and in which living rooms and even kitchens can count as bedrooms. Changing the legal definition of overcrowding dating back to 1935, which also counts children between one and 10 as “half a person”, would begin to tackle the crisis, Shelter said. Overcrowding can cause depression, ill-health, lack of sleep and social isolation, while the lack of space makes it difficult for children to study, play and develop normally, the charity said. The Housing Act 2004 set out powers to update the statutory definition of overcrowding, but it has still not been changed.

Shelter has launched a viral advertising campaign online to highlight the issue and urge the Government to take action. It features a mock news broadcast of a politician on the campaign trail posing with a baby and then throwing it into the crowd. It is voiced by Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow and directed by The Thick of It writer and director Armando Iannucci.

Mr Iannucci said: “Legislation has been passed making it possible to modernise these outdated overcrowding laws and yet children under one are still excluded when overcrowding is assessed. Shelter’s aim is to persuade the Government to act now to make sure the next generation are included.”

Shelter’s chief executive Adam Sampson said: “With almost one million children now trapped in cramped, squalid conditions we hope this hard-hitting advert will compel Government to finally tackle this crisis, which leaves children in conditions that have more in common with the Dickensian era that those of a modern nation. We want as many people as possible to support our call on Government to update this outdated law by going online and viewing our new advertising campaign.”