Housing – UK Government assessment
UK Government action taken in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic led to decreases in homelessness and rough sleeping. Levels of homelessness have since increased but are still not at pre-pandemic levels. Some steps are being taken to improve housing standards, such as proposals to enact provisions in the Equality Act 2010 related to reasonable adjustments in the common parts of rented properties and higher accessibility requirements for new housing. There remains a chronic shortage of accessible homes, which has an adverse impact on the lives of disabled and older people. Many people still live in overcrowded, insecure or poor-quality housing. Gypsies, Roma and Travellers and people seeking asylum face particular housing challenges.
- In 2021/22, 278,110 households were recorded as being homeless or at risk of homelessness in England, an increase of 9,550 since the previous year.
- An estimated 688 homeless people died in England and Wales in 2020. This represents the first fall in the number of estimated deaths since 2014.
- The estimated number of people sleeping rough on a single night in autumn in England fell by 37% in 2020 following the UK Government’s ‘Everyone In’ campaign. In 2021, this number fell for the fourth year in a row. However, there are concerns that the cost of living crisis may lead to an increase in rough sleeping.
- The implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 has improved services for those who would previously have had limited support. In response to challenges in implementing the legislation, the UK Government announced additional funding in the Homelessness Reduction Grant.
- The overall rate of overcrowding in England in 2020/21 was 3%, with approximately 738,000 households living in overcrowded conditions. People living in the social or private rented sector are more likely to live in overcrowded accommodation – 8% of social renters live in overcrowded homes.
- In England, people from ethnic minorities are disproportionately more likely to live in overcrowded accommodation and Black people are disproportionately more likely to be assessed as being, or at risk of becoming, homeless.
- There is a chronic shortage of accessible housing across Britain, which creates barriers for disabled and older people’s right to independent living and full inclusion in society. In England, only 9% of all homes offer minimal accessibility features.
- The proposals contained in the UK Government’s A Fairer Private Rented Sector policy paper, published in June 2022, have the potential to improve the quality of rented homes and security for tenants in England.
- We have raised concerns that the new criminal offence of trespass directed against unauthorised encampments will negatively affect Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people.
- Research found that changes to planning policy led to local authorities underestimating the need for accommodation for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people.
- A 2018 report from the Home Affairs Committee found that accommodation for people seeking asylum was often of a poor standard and did not meet the specific needs of groups such as torture survivors, pregnant women, mothers with small children and individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder.
- The failure to remove or ban combustible cladding prior to the Grenfell Tower fire represented a failure of the UK’s human rights obligations to protect life and provide safe housing.
Read more about the UK and Welsh Governments’ actions on housing.