Poor housing is affecting the health and education of more than
a million children in Britain, according to a report by
homelessness charity Shelter.
The report states that bad housing “makes children
sick”, with cramped accommodation often leading to disturbed
sleep, poor diet, hyperactivity, and bedwetting.
Bad housing means that as many as one in 12 children develop
diseases such as bronchitis, tuberculosis or asthma. Homeless
children in bed and breakfast accommodation are twice as likely to
be admitted to hospital casualty departments with burns and
scalding, and more than one in ten childhood accidents are due to
badly designed housing and dangerous fittings.
In addition, children’s education is likely to suffer as a
result of poor housing. Those living in emergency housing may have
to move school frequently, and can wait weeks for a new school
Insecurity over their home situation can also result in
behavioural problems, which may lead to some children being
labelled as difficult. Others may stop attending school for fear of
The dire situation was highlighted by one mother of three.
“I’ve had letters from school telling me the kids
smelt really bad. The teachers thought the kids had wet themselves,
but it was just their clothes that stank from being in the flat.
I’d washed them and everything, but it doesn’t help,
everything stinks,” she said.
The report attributes the housing crisis to various factors
including rocketing house prices and a failure to build enough
houses. It states that over two million council houses have been
sold off in the last 20 years and that investment in social housing
is around half the level of a decade ago.
An improvement plan would include more investment, better
regulation of landlords, and more support services to prevent