Friday, 30 January 2015

Number 10 rejects overcrowding petition

The government has rejected calls to update the definition of overcrowding despite strong support for a petition on the Number 10 website.

More than 2,500 people signed the online petition set up by housing charity Shelter, which closed on 29 March, calling for a new standard to ‘reflect modern expectations of space and privacy’.

The government has now responded to the petition, saying it is ‘committed to tackling overcrowding’ but must ‘ensure that we have the right processes in place to support overcrowded households’ before making any changes to statutory standards.

The legal definition of overcrowding in England has remained unchanged since 1935, and counts children under 10 as half a person, and living rooms and large kitchens as acceptable places to sleep.

The Housing Act 2004 set out powers to update the statutory definition of overcrowding, but these have not yet been implemented.

Communities and Local Government department figures published last month showed there were 654,000 overcrowded households in England in 2008/09, which Shelter says is the highest level for over 14 years.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the charity, said: ‘Overcrowding is a huge blight on children’s lives, with devastating consequences for their health, education and future chances.

‘It is simply unacceptable for this antiquated standard to remain in place, allowing kitchens and living rooms to be considered as acceptable places for children to sleep.’

The government’s response to the petition says it is funding 54 pathfinder areas to develop ways of reducing overcrowding, through a £15 million programme.

‘Through this programe we are also building our evidence base which will help to establish the full cost, impact and timing of undertaking a phased and manageable move to a new statutory standard,‘ it adds.

It also says local authorities can develop their own definitions of overcrowding, which ‘are much more generous than the statutory standard’.

Conservative shadow housing minister Grant Shapps said: ‘These shocking overcrowding stats are indicative of this government’s utter failure to build the homes the country needs.’

Liberal Democrat housing spokesperson Sarah Teather said: ‘Labour’s betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of families stuck in cramped conditions is frankly unforgivable.

‘Overcrowding means children unable to do their homework, and families falling apart due to the stress of living on top of each other.’

Readers' comments (35)

  • The vast majority of families are not overcrowded when they are allocated accomodation. Parents need to be more responsbile and not continue to have children if they do not have the space.

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  • lets make this a face book job, plug the casuse

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  • Norahs - adreed, and what the hell is wrong with using a seperate living room as a bedroom at night?? sofa bed anyone.

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  • Norahs: you have not read the article properly, or if you have, you have failed to understand it.

    This is not about how people become overcrowded. It is about the definition of overcrowding that is used in the first place. Therefore it applies equally to all families, whether or not they meet your stern standards of parental responsibility.

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  • Norahs is spot on. Regarding of the overcrowding definitions, the bottom line is families continue to push out kids when they clearly a. they have no space. b. no money apart from state benefits. Tax payers should not continue to be burdened with these practises. I would love to have more children, however i cannot afford to! simple really. Then the government talk about ending child poverty, and throw billions of pounds at the problem. Condoms cost £3.50 for a pack of 3!!

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  • Owen Hart

    Spot on Norahs, ProMan and Ringo. Campbell Robb's statement should read:

    "‘OverBREEDING is a huge blight on children’s lives, with devastating
    consequences for their health, education and future chances."

    So long as the State is handing out OPM (other peoples money) in form of child benefit to breed an unlimited number of kids - which the parent cannot patently afford to feed without such benefits - and expect to be rehoused each time a new sprog is popped, then overcrowding will be an issue. Finite resources plus unlimited population growth = problem.

    Optimum Population Trust sum the situation nicely, see "No unlimited right to have children OPT Population Day report OPT News release 11 July 2008":

    Stop the benefits, stop the problem and as stated above Condoms cost £3.50 for a pack of 3.

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  • Joe Halewood

    As condoms are packed in threes why do some contributors here always end up with an odd one!!

    1 Left Always Guaranteed?

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  • And people wonder why I complain about the "contempt and loathing" expressed for tenants in these columns.

    They're like Pavlovian dogs. It doesn't matter what the article's actually about. Ring the bell - "overcrowding", "asylum", "teenage mothers" - and they instantly start salivating, dribbling out this endless stream of hate-mongering trash.

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  • Eva Silver

    I agreed I would if I was a Cllr say after two children no more benefits no more children's Tax Credit or Child Benefit. If you living on benefits. I understand some may become a Widow and may need support and I have no problem. I had three children and only because I could afford them. I see this is my own area popping out children and living in poverty and demanding largest property's.

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  • I agree but I think family planning used to give out condoms free. Better still how about a free (compulsory) snip for all men and women who have had three children. Save the state and them a lot of money and grief.
    Shame on libs and cons for not standing up to these people. Parents must take sole responsibility for the situation, no one else, why should everyone else pay because they want much larger houses, that they can not possibly afford.

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