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.
As many as one in 12 children develop diseases such as
bronchitis, tuberculosis or asthma in bad housing. 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 10 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.
One mother of three highlighted the dire situation. “I’ve
had letters from school telling me the kids smelt 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.”
The report attributes the housing crisis to factors including
rocketing house prices and a failure to build enough. It states
that more than two million council houses have been sold off in the
past 20 years and that investment in social housing is around half
the level of a decade ago.
An improvement plan should include more investment, better
regulation of landlords, and more support services to prevent
homelessness, the report said.
– Toying with their Future from www.shelter.org.uk/