Last updated: April 17, 2014 2:20 pm

One in 10 London households ‘overcrowded’

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More than one in 10 households in London are overcrowded, with fewer than the recommended number of bedrooms for those living there, according to analysis from the Office for National Statistics.

Newham in east London, where the London 2012 Olympic Stadium is situated, had the worst level – 25 per cent – of overcrowding. The top five local authorities with the highest percentage of overcrowded house holds are all in London.

The results echo the findings of a Financial Times analysis of rent data last year which revealed increasing numbers of graduates were “hutching up” as the capital becomes unaffordable for recent graduates.

A graduate on an average starting salary of £22,400 can expect to spend more than a third of his or her gross income on rent – a standard definition of unaffordability – for a room in a two-bedroom property in 72 per cent of inner London postcodes.

More than half of inner London postcodes remain unaffordable on this definition even for those renting a room in a shared four-bedroom house. One-bedroom flats are unaffordable for new graduates in every single part of inner and outer London.

The latest ONS analysis, using data from the 2011 census, is a further sign of how the housing market in London is diverging from the rest of the country: at the other end of the spectrum, over 50 per cent of households in Rutland in the East Midlands had two or more spare bedrooms. Excluding London, seven out of 10 households across England and Wales had one or more spare bedrooms.

The shortcomings of UK housing policy were also highlighted by the fact that under-occupation is also a big feature – more than four-fifths of owner-occupiers in the UK have one or more bedrooms more than they need.

The most common household size for owner-occupiers was two people, a trend the ONS said may be encouraged by the fact that many retirees continue to occupy family homes after their children have left home. It found that 76 per cent of those aged 65 to 74 owned their own homes – the highest across all age groups.

Commenting on the analysis, Roger Harding of the housing charity Shelter, said: “Decades of failure to build the homes we need has led to soaring housing costs across the capital, and families struggling to keep up.

“We’re seeing even more forced to share with other families or cram into homes too small for them, with siblings sharing beds or parents sleeping on the sofa.”

Mr Harding said the figures were “yet more proof that the government needs to get on and build the decent, affordable homes that millions of families desperately need”.

House price data from the Nationwide recently showed that the cost of a typical house in the capital is now more than double that in the rest of the country.

The ONS analysis also reveals a substantial divide between owners and renters: eight out of 10 owner-occupiers had a least one spare bedroom, compared with five in 10 of those renting privately and four in 10 who rent in social housing.

The ONS definition of overcrowding is based on how many bedrooms a household is expected to need based on its composition. For example, married couples are regarded as needing a bedroom to themselves, as does any person aged over 21, but two people of the same sex under the age of 20 are seen as able to share a room.

Additional reporting by Norma Cohen


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