Page last updated at 10:16 GMT, Wednesday, 15 April 2009 11:16 UK

Housing overcrowding 'will soar'

The problem could worsen if the number of new homes being built falls

More than 2.65 million people in England will be forced to live in overcrowded conditions by 2011, a campaign group has warned.

The National Housing Federation says the number will increase by 15%, a rise of 350,000 people, as unemployment soars during the recession.

It said rising unemployment would force people to stay in homes which are too small for them.

The government said it was committed to providing affordable housing.

The organisation said if there was a sharp downturn in the construction of new affordable homes, the situation would be even worse.

'Ground to halt'

It is estimated that 140,000 new homes were constructed in 2008-09, while just 70,000 will be built in England in 2009-10.

Overcrowding could lead to widespread problems with health, children's education and family relationships, the federation warned.

The government has pledged to build 3m new homes by 2020, but the federation said house building had "virtually ground to a halt".

NHF chief executive David Orr said it was essential to continue building new family homes during the downturn.

He said: "To prevent overcrowding reaching epidemic proportions, we believe the government should introduce a house-building fiscal stimulus in the Budget, with around £6.35bn being spent on constructing 100,000 new homes for social rent over the next two years.

"This would ensure we can continue to build high-quality affordable housing, with adequate space standards, through the downturn - while at the same time helping to boost the economy."

The Department of Communities and Local Government said it was committed to major increases in the supply of affordable and social housing to meet the needs of families on waiting lists or living in overcrowded conditions.

A spokesman said: "Along with an £8bn programme to deliver more affordable housing, we are providing a range of support to keep up the delivery of the homes this country needs.

"Over the next two years, we are bringing forward £975m of housing spending that will protect jobs in the industry, while also delivering more affordable homes."

The government was "constantly looking" at what more could be done to support the housing market in the current climate, he added.

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