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Volume 469: debated on Monday 10 December 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the number of people in England who were (a) squatting, (b) facing eviction, (c) in temporary accommodation, (d) living in severe overcrowding and (e) staying with friends or family because they have no accommodation at the latest date for which figures are available. (165786)

The information requested is as follows.

Temporary accommodation

Information about local authorities’ actions under homelessness legislation is collected quarterly at local authority level, in respect of households rather than people. Information reported each quarter by local authorities about their activities under homelessness legislation includes the number of households accepted by local authorities as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, and therefore owed a main homelessness duty. The duty owed to an accepted household is to secure suitable accommodation. If a settled home is not immediately available, the authority may secure temporary accommodation until a settled home becomes available. This data is published in our quarterly statistical release on Statutory Homelessness, available on our website and placed in the Library each quarter. The latest release was published on 10 September 2007 and contains data for the period April to June 2007:

The latest figures show that there were 84,900 households in temporary accommodation in England on 30 June 2007. This is down from 101,000 in December 2004.


Over the period 2003-04 to 2005-06 it is estimated, from Survey of English Housing figures, that there were 47,000 households in England living in severely overcrowded conditions.

The benchmark for assessing whether or not a household is overcrowded or severely overcrowded is the Bedroom Standard. This is determined for each household in accordance with its age/sex/marital status composition and the relationship of the members to one another. A separate bedroom is required:

for each married or cohabiting couple;

for any other person aged 21 or over;

for each pair of adolescents aged 10-20 of the same sex;

for each pair of children under 10.

Further, any unpaired person aged 10-20 is paired, if possible with a child under 10 of the same sex, or, if that is not possible, he or she is counted as requiring a separate bedroom, as is any unpaired child under 10.

This standard is then compared with the actual number of bedrooms (including bed-sitters) available for the sole use of the household. Bedrooms converted to other uses are not counted as available unless they have been denoted as bedrooms by the residents. Bedrooms not actually in use are counted unless uninhabitable.

If a household has fewer bedrooms than implied by the standard then it is deemed to be ‘overcrowded’. Since one bedroom will be sufficient for single person households and for married/cohabiting couples, these households cannot be overcrowded according to the bedroom standard. If a household has two or more bedrooms fewer than implied by the standard then it is deemed to be ‘severely overcrowded’.

The Government are committed to addressing overcrowding and to updating the standards. We have already announced our intention to increase the numbers of affordable housing, including family sized social properties, to help to support a reduction in overcrowding.

Households facing eviction

Data from the Ministry of Justice indicate that in the year to 30 September 2007, there were 61,532 outright landlord orders. This figure should not be taken as an indication of how many households have been repossessed through the courts, since not all orders result in actual eviction.

No reliable information on the number of squatters, or people staying with family or friends because they have no accommodation, is collected centrally.