Census 2021: Thousands of Portsmouth households classed as overcrowded - but more than 50,000 are under-occupied

Thousands of Portsmouth households were classed as overcrowded - but more than 50,000 were  under-occupiedThousands of Portsmouth households were classed as overcrowded - but more than 50,000 were  under-occupied
Thousands of Portsmouth households were classed as overcrowded - but more than 50,000 were under-occupied
Thousands of households were classed as overcrowded in Portsmouth, according to figures from the 2021 census show.

A campaign group has blamed overcrowding on slow rates of housebuilding and "skyrocketing" rents across England and Wales.

Figures show around 3,765 homes were judged to be overcrowded in Portsmouth – 4.4% of all homes in the area.

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Meanwhile, 53,010 homes (61.5%) were classed as 'under-occupied' – meaning they had rooms to spare.

Overcrowding is calculated by looking at how many rooms are available in a residence and assessing whether they are adequate for the number of people living there.

The ONS' figures show renters were more likely to live in crowded accommodation than those who own their own homes.

In Portsmouth, social renters were most likely to struggle for space, with 9.7% impacted.

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Ben Twomey, chief executive of the campaign group Generation Rent, said a failure to build enough homes and stop "skyrocketing" rents has put private renters in a tricky situation.

"If you have children or are an older renter, being forced into an overcrowded house can be particularly stressful," he added.

As of 2021, there were around 1,970 households with dependent children suffering from a lack of space in Portsmouth.

Across England, households comprised of people of black backgrounds had the highest rates of overcrowding, at 16.1% of homes – compared to 4.4% across the general population.

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In addition, Muslim households were five times as likely to be overcrowded.

Sam Tims, senior economist at the New Economics Foundation, said it was no surprise some groups were suffering worse housing conditions.

He commented: "Every family deserves to live in an affordable and comfortable home, near to friends and family with access to good public services.

"Yet while over two-thirds of houses across the country are under-occupied, the worsening housing emergency is forcing over a million households to live in homes too small for their needs."

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Mr Tims further cautioned a "miserly" welfare system was further exacerbating the problem.

London had a far higher rate of overcrowded housing than any other region of England and Wales. Every one of the top 10 most crowded areas was in the capital – other than Slough, in London's commuter belt.

Both the New Economics Foundation and Generation Rent said building more social homes is the first step to tackling the issue.

Data from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, however, show how Portsmouth has lost social homes in recent years.

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A total of 142 social homes were built in the city in the ten years to March 2022.

Meanwhile, 817 social homes were sold and 162 demolished over the same period – meaning that the area has lost 837 homes over the past ten years.

Across England, 194,000 social homes were sold in the decade to March 2022, and 55,000 demolished.

Just 84,000 were built over the same period – resulting in a net loss of 165,000 social homes.

These figures do not include sales for low-cost homeownership.