Overcrowding in England

19 April 2023

One of the strongest indicators that all is not well in our housing system is the level of overcrowding experienced by people in all tenures. Overcrowding in the social sector is indicative of a shortage of available housing of the right size, and in the private sector it is indicative of the affordability issues faced by households in trying to find a home large enough for their needs.

In this paper, as well as looking at the scale of overcrowding as measured in the English Housing Survey, we look at the impacts on families who deem themselves to be living in overcrowded conditions. The report explores the impact overcrowding has on a family’s physical and mental health, wellbeing, daily lives and relationships.

Key findings

  • More than 310,000 children (313,244) in England are forced to share beds with other family members.
  • One in every six children is being forced to live in cramped conditions because their family cannot access a suitable and affordable home. This equates to two million children from 746,000 families.
  • Households from minority ethnic backgrounds are three times as likely to be affected by overcrowding than white households.
  • Over two thirds (70%) of overcrowded families say they have experienced both poor mental and poor physical health as a direct result of overcrowding.
  • A quarter of parents in overcrowded homes are regularly forced to sleep in a living room, bathroom, hallway or kitchen because of the lack of space.

The National Housing Federation is calling for a long-term, national plan for meeting housing need, with the aim of driving a drastic increase in the number of affordable homes over the next decade.

In the media

310,000 children in overcrowded homes forced to share a bed with parents or siblings (19 April 2023)

Press release

Who to speak to

Tristan Carlyon, Head of Research and Analysis