MORE THAN a thousand city households could be living in overcrowded accommodation, with a leading housing think tank warning they are more vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic.
Latest government figures show there were 1,026 households on the housing waiting list in Worcester in 2018/19 who were living in overcrowded, unsanitary or unsatisfactory conditions.
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.
The figure for overcrowded accommodation was almost 250,000, according to figures provided by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
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.
Think tank Resolution Foundation said many households will struggle to follow safety guidance because they are in cramped or crowded housing, and called on the government to consider the impact on such groups when issuing health advice.
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”.
She said: “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.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “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.”
Latest figures also show there were 30 households living in temporary hostels and B&Bs in the city at the end of September last year – four of them families with children.
They were among 13,560 homeless households across England stuck in such accommodation, of which 5,400 contained children.