Poor housing causes 1 in 3 Britons health problems during lockdown, survey shows

Almost a third of adults in Britain have suffered from mental or physical health problems due to their housing conditions during the COVID-19 lockdown, a new survey has revealed.

The survey, conducted by YouGov, found that poor quality housing has negatively affected the health of 31% of adults – 15.9 million people – since March, causing them issues such as sleep deprivation, depression or stress, and even physical illness including COVID-19.

The figures have been released by the Homes for the Heart campaign launched by five leading housing organisations last week, who have warned that the country’s housing crisis is making lockdown unbearable for much of the population.

The campaign, which urges government to put funding for new and existing social homes at the heart of the UK’s recovery from COVID-19, has so far attracted backing from over 60 businesses, banks, charities and think tanks.

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, one of the organisations behind the Homes for the Heart campaign, said: “For many people, our homes have been important places of refuge and safety during this pandemic – but for countless others across the country home has felt less like a sanctuary and more like a prison.

“Inadequate housing and cramped conditions are making lockdown even more unbearable for millions of people right now. Homes have been the centre of our lives during the pandemic and as the country starts to re-open, the government must put homes at the heart of the country’s recovery too.”

Figures released by the campaign – including a YouGov survey of 4,116 people and new analysis of the latest English Housing Survey carried out each year by government – reveal that a record 3.7 million people in Britain are living in overcrowded homes.

30,000 people are spending lockdown in a home consisting of just one room, while 62,580 families are living in temporary accommodation, the highest number since 2007.

The Homes for the Heart campaign says that the ‘severe lack’ of housing in Britain, especially social housing, has meant that millions more people are spending lockdown in damp, insecure or over-expensive homes, adding to residents’ health problems.

According to the YouGov survey, over half of adults (52%) who said their homes weren’t big enough said they’d suffered from health issues during lockdown.

Almost a fifth (19%) said they hadn’t been able to get enough sleep due to a lack of space, while 5% said their living conditions had motivated them to seek medical help or to take medication for their mental health.

Gavin Smart, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has highlighted the importance of giving people access to safe, secure, and spacious housing.

Smart said: “We believe funding for new and existing social homes should be at the heart of the country’s recovery from the virus, helping to tackle homelessness and overcrowding, providing secure and affordable housing for those who have worked tirelessly to keep the country going during lockdown and ensuring the delivery of homes fit for the future.”

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