Downing Street flat: thousands living in overcrowded or insanitary housing just 10 miles from No 10 - as PM rows over £800 wallpaper

Just an hour’s travel away from Boris Johnson and Carrie Symond’s luxury renovated residence, thousands of families are living in insanitary conditions as they wait for council housing

Hundreds of thousands of families in England are living in squalor while their Prime Minister is embroiled in a row over the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat.

There are claims that a breathtaking £800 was spent on a roll of gold wallpaper during the renovation of Boris Johnson and his fiancée Carrie Symond’s living space, with the PM reportedly telling aides that the costs were “out of control” despite an existing budget of £30,000 of taxpayers’ money.

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But as Westminster rages over the amount spent on the luxury revamp - speculated to be as much as £200,000 - and pressure mounts on Mr Johnson to disclose how it was originally paid for, a more severe housing crisis is happening on his doorstep.

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds are at the centre of a row over the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat, as thousands of families live in insanitary conditions down the road from them (Getty Images)

A few miles down the road from the official four-bedroom residence above No 11, in Newham, 15,729 households are living in insanitary or overcrowded conditions while they wait for social housing.

In total, there are 28,020 families in that area of the city alone who are on the council housing waiting list, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

The borough is the site of the 2012 Olympics - an event in which Mr Johnson himself, as former London Mayor, promised would lead to a housing and economic regeneration.

‘Not fit for human habitation’

A recent ITV report revealed the appalling and dangerous conditions that some of the people living in “non-decent” homes in the UK have been forced to live in for months.

The shocking footage, filmed in council housing in Croydon, south London, showed dirty water dripping from the ceilings, flowing down the walls into buckets and soaking carpets, with black mould completely covering bedrooms.

Polly Neate, the chief executive of Shelter, the UK’s biggest housing charity, said the conditions were the worst she had ever seen and that there wasn’t any way the properties were “fit for human habitation”.

Croydon and Newham are among 13 London boroughs in the top 20 council areas in England with the most households living in insanitary or overcrowded homes as they wait for council housing.

But unhygienic housing is a grim, nationwide problem that is not solely confined to Mr Johnson’s home city.

Insanitary housing problem is UK-wide

As the Electoral Commission launches an investigation into the circumstances surrounding how the PM’s controversial flat renovation was initially paid for, more than a million households in England wait to be given appropriate council housing.

Of that number, 224,170 families, many of which include children, are living in insanitary conditions.

Outside of London, Southampton is the council which has the most households (6,391) living in insanitary or overcrowded environments.

This is followed by Salford, with 4,110 families confined to these unhygienic conditions.

And three of England’s largest cities - Bristol, Leicester and Manchester - make the top 20, with around 3,000 households in each area occupying overcrowded or insanitary housing.

Top 10 councils in England with the most households living in insanitary or overcrowded homes while they wait for council housing:

Newham 15,729
Lambeth 13,162
Haringey 9,029
Tower Hamlets 8,056
Southampton 6,391
Wandsworth 4,861
Hackney 4,662
Camden 4,471
Salford 4,110
Luton 3,782

Mr Johnson has brushed off questions about the Downing Street refurbishment and subsequent inquiries into the matter, claiming that there isn’t “anything to see here”.

The PM said he would comply with the Electoral Commission’s investigation and suggested that he was turning his attention to other issues.

"We will comply with whatever they want. I don't think there's anything to see here, or to worry about, but what we are doing is focusing on the stuff that really matters," he said.