Crowded houses

18 March 2011

Our new report says that building a greater proportion of large homes would help tackle overcrowding in social housing.

This report by the Assembly's Planning and Housing Committee calls for a different policy approach to help more people out of overcrowded homes, and cut the health and social costs linked to one of the most hidden elements of London’s housing crisis.

Led by Andrew Boff AM, the investigation focused on social rented housing in London, where more than 100,000 households are overcrowded.

It tested the hypothesis that building more large homes is a better way to tackle overcrowding, and found while this is not the only answer, it is certainly part of the solution.

Key recommendations:

The Mayor should base his headline target on the number of new bedrooms provided and measure his success on the number of people taken out of housing need, instead of the number of units built.  He should also include a specific requirement for 4+ bedroom homes in his targets – instead of his current 3+ target - and lobby for changes to HCA grant rates so they provide an incentive to build bigger. 

Boroughs should give people applying for social housing more “points” for overcrowding, and give under-occupiers greater priority to encourage downsizing.  Boroughs should also amend their allocations policies to give housing associations the flexibility to move existing under-occupied or overcrowded households when vacancies become available, instead of always filling voids with a single household from the waiting list.

The Government should use its forthcoming social housing reform legislation to make the more ‘human’ bedroom standard the statutory requirement for measuring overcrowding.  

Read the full report and the evidence received during the investigation.