Housing crisis: the 10 areas of England and Wales with most overcrowded homes, according to 2021 census

More than one million households have fewer bedrooms than they need, new figures show.

More than a million homes in England and Wales are overcrowded, with the number barely changing from a decade ago, new census data shows.

Many parts of London are worst affected, although neighbourhoods with high levels of overcrowding can also be found in places such as Leicester, Birmingham and Oldham.

In England, one million homes - nearly one in 20 (4.4%) - had fewer bedrooms than they needed at the time of the 2021 census.

This is the same figure as in the previous census in 2011, although the rising number of homes overall means it accounts for a smaller proportion, down from 4.6% a decade ago.

About 170,000 homes were very overcrowded, with at least two fewer bedrooms than they needed, the data published by the Office for National Statistics shows.

The situation was better in Wales, with 2.2% of homes having fewer bedrooms than they needed. Around 30,000 households were overcrowded, 8,000 fewer than a decade ago.

About 3,500 of these were very overcrowded with at least two fewer bedrooms than they needed.

Overcrowded homes are those with fewer bedrooms than needed for the number of occupants.

Anyone over 16 or single parents are expected to need their own bedroom. Couples living together, pairs of children under 10 or same-sex pairs of children under 16 are assumed to be able to share a room.

Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said: “The only lasting solution to our housing emergency is building more social homes. It’s time for the government to invest in a new generation of good quality social homes with genuinely affordable rents pegged to local incomes.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “It’s unacceptable for anyone to be living in an overcrowded home and councils should prioritise finding people living in these conditions somewhere fit for purpose.

“To ease pressures, we are increasing the supply of affordable housing. Our £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme will deliver thousands of affordable homes for both rent and to buy right across the country.”

At regional level, London was the worst affected, with more than one in 10 households (11%) overcrowded, followed by the West Midlands at 4%.

At council level, the London borough of Newham had the worst overcrowding problem, with more than a fifth of households affected (22%).

This was followed by two other London boroughs - Barking and Dagenham (18%) and Brent (17%).

The NationalWorld team is investigating the housing crisis blighting Britain. The current plight is years in the making, from renters stuck in mouldy homes to families unable to afford cladding repairs to make their flats safe. You can read more of our stories on the housing crisis here and if you have a story to tell email [email protected].

These are the neighbourhoods with the highest proportion of overcrowded homes, according to the census data. Images are for illustrative purposes only and may not show the specific neighbourhood mentioned.

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