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43% of Brits live in unacceptable housing

  • 17/10/2016
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This article is over a year old

A new standard for housing designed to be the equivalent of the living wage has been launched by housing charity Shelter.


A new standard for housing designed to be the equivalent of the living wage has been launched by housing charity Shelter. The “living home standard” gives five main “elements” that flats and houses have to meet in order to provide an acceptable home that promotes people’s wellbeing; affordability, decent conditions, space, stability and neighbourhood.

Each of the five elements in the standard is measured according to certain criteria - for example, the essentials of "space" include having sufficient bedrooms for the household and space for the whole household to spend time together in the same room.

Shelter surveyed almost 2,000 people and found that 43% did not live in homes that met all the standards. Over a quarter (27%) failed on affordability, while almost a fifth failed to meet the standard because of poor conditions, with problems including persistent pests, damp and safety hazards.

The survey also found that 18% of respondents could not meet their housing costs without regularly cutting back on essentials like food or heating. Those who rented were twice as likely to be living in a home that failed the criteria for decent living than homeowners.

Turn2us research on energy costs found that one in two low income households were struggling to afford their energy costs, despite being in work and of those households who are struggling with energy costs, nearly half (48%) have done so for more than a year. The knock-on effect was severe with a huge 71% feeling they would have to cut back on or not use their heating, whilst over two-fifths (44%) said they would resort to cutting back on food. Nearly two in five (37%) anticipate that their energy bills will cause further stress and worry in the coming months.

Turn2us help

If you are on a low income and struggling with housing costs, you may find the 'Help with housing costs' section' of our website useful.

Our free Benefits Calculator can help you check your welfare benefit entitlements and tax credits. Even if you have checked before, it is worth doing so again, especially if there has been a change in your circumstances. You can also use our Grants Search to find out if you might be eligible for help from a charitable fund. 

If you are worried about any issues relating to your particular situation and would like further advice, you can use our Find an Adviser tool to locate face-to-face advice services in your local area.

Shelter’s five elements

  • Affordability: Factors cited included how much was left for essentials, savings and social activities after paying for rent or mortgage

  • Decent conditions: Words like "safe", "warm" and "secure" were among the words used by the public to describe what makes a home meet this criterion

  • Space: Adequate space was felt to be crucial for wellbeing, especially mental and social wellbeing

  • Stability: Stability was often described as the extent to which people felt they could make the property they lived in a "home"

  • Neighbourhood: Living in an area where people felt safe and secure was considered particularly important. People also wanted to be close enough to work, family and friends and the services they need

Read more: BBC News article: Shelter: More than four in 10 people face homes which fail acceptable standards

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