Housing issues during lockdown: health, space and overcrowding

01 July 2020

A briefing on research supporting the Homes at the Heart campaign

For many people, our homes have been important places of refuge and safety during this pandemic – but for countless others across the country, home has felt less like a sanctuary and more like a prison. Inadequate housing and cramped conditions are making lockdown even more unbearable for millions of people right now.

To support the Homes at the Heart campaign, we have explored the reality of lockdown life for people in Britain today. This involved in the first instance analysis of the extent and nature of overcrowding in England, as evidenced through the English Housing Survey. Secondly, we commissioned YouGov to ask more than 4,000 British adults about the types of issues they have been facing during lockdown.

The findings contained in this report represent just a small part of what we found. We plan to spotlight more of these issues as the campaign progresses.


  • Nearly a third (31%) of adults in Britain – 15.9 million people – have had mental or physical health problems because of the condition of, or lack of space in, their home during lockdown.
  • 30,000 people are spending lockdown in a home that consists of one room, and more than 3,600 children are spending lockdown in a home made up of two rooms.
  • A record 3.7m people are living in overcrowded homes, including a record 1.6m children.
  • More than half of people (52%) who said their home was not big enough said they’d suffered from health problems during lockdown.
  • More than 1 in 10 (11%) of all British adults said they felt depressed during lockdown because of a lack of space in their home.
  • 1 in 20 (5%) of everyone who said their home was not big enough said this had led them to seek medical help during lockdown or take medication for their mental health.
  • Almost a fifth (19%) of those who said their home was not big enough said they hadn’t been able to get enough sleep during lockdown because of the lack of space.

Homes at the Heart

Throughout the summer and autumn, we are planning a series of media stories, social media campaign activities and targeted engagement with politicians to create a consensus that social housing must be at the heart of our country’s recovery.

Support the campaign

Who to speak to

Tristan Carlyon, Head of Research and Analysis