Overcrowded Cornish homes 'at risk', says think tank

3 minute read
Overcrowded Cornish homes 'at risk', says think tank

Published at 10:30am 29th March 2020. (Updated at 7:39am 30th March 2020)

More than 1,500 Cornish residents are living in overcrowded accommodation, with a leading housing think tank warning they are more vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic.

With Covid-19 cases spreading across the UK, the Government is advising people to practise social distancing, while those with symptoms have been told to isolate themselves indoors.

But think tank the Resolution Foundation said many households will struggle to follow safety guidelines because they are in cramped or crowded housing, and called on the Government to consider the impact on such groups when issuing health advice.

The latest Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures show there were 1,728 households on the housing waiting list in Cornwall in 2018-19 who were living in overcrowded, unsanitary or unsatisfactory conditions.

But the numbers only include those waiting for new social housing, with the latest English Housing Survey, finding that 788,000 households are in overcrowded conditions – including more than one in 20 private renters.

Public Health England advises that people displaying coronavirus symptoms such as a cough or high temperature should stay at home for seven days.

It also recommends they stay away as much as possible from vulnerable people in their home, sleep in separate beds, and use separate bathrooms if possible.

Lindsay Judge, principal research and policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said self-isolation for families in overcrowded accommodation "is likely to prove especially difficult".

"Finding and providing adequate housing for all should be a long-term priority for the Government.

"For now, it’s essential policymakers consider the impact on all groups when issuing health advice, and ensure everyone is supported to protect themselves as best as possible."

Lindsay Judge, principal research and policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation

New figures also show there were 86 households living in temporary hostels and B&Bs in Cornwall at the end of September​ – ​17 of them families with children.

They were among 13,560 homeless households across England stuck in such accommodation, of which 5,400 contained children.

Housing charity Shelter says households in these kinds of temporary accommodation have to share kitchen and bathroom facilities with strangers, often sleep in a single room, and may even share a bed.

"Local authority public health, housing and social care teams are encouraged to work closely together to identify appropriate local solutions for people who don’t have anywhere to self-isolate".

Public Health England

"Public safety and protecting the most vulnerable people in society from coronavirus is this government’s top priority.

"We are working closely with councils and charities to ensure families have the support they need throughout this period.”

An MHCLG spokesperson

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