Some 1.5 million social tenants are living in overcrowded social homes, such as families living in one-bedroom flats, research from homelessness charity Shelter has found.
This represents a 44% rise in just five years, or an extra 467,000, as one in six people in social homes now live in an overcrowded space.
Polly Neate, chief executive, Shelter said: “The devastating level of overcrowding in social housing is scandalous. Years of failure to build social homes mean there are too many people chasing too few homes. Families are literally living on top of each other – something you would expect to see in the Victorian era, not the 21st century.
“The pandemic has left many of us feeling trapped, but for those crammed into homes too small, it’s been a nightmare. Overcrowding puts a strain on every aspect of family life. We’ve got parents sleeping on sofas, siblings all sharing one bed, and babies who don’t have the space to crawl.
“These overcrowded families are stranded with nowhere else to go. Home ownership is out of reach and private renting is too expensive for most. The answer is clear – the government cannot build back better without building good-quality social homes.”
Shelter blamed the shortage on an undersupply of new social homes.
Last year fewer than 7,000 new social homes were built, despite more than one million households being on the waiting list.
The charity called for the government to invest in building 90,000 new social homes a year to combat overcrowding.