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Overcrowding: Health Hazards

Health written question – answered on 10th January 2008.

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Photo of Andrew Smith Andrew Smith Labour, Oxford East

To ask the Secretary of State for Health

(1) what assessment his Department has made of the effects of overcrowding in housing on health;

(2) what steps he has taken to ensure that the effects of overcrowding on health are reflected in the development of standards for housing.

Photo of Iain Wright Iain Wright Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government)

holding answer 18 December 2007

I have been asked to reply.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister undertook a review of the evidence and literature looking at the impact of overcrowding on health and education in 2004 "(The Impact of Overcrowding on Health and Education: A Review of the Evidence and Literature (Housing Research Summary Number 210, 2004)" copies of which are available on :

The published summary indicates that there is a small relationship between overcrowding and aspects of physical health of both children and adults. Additionally, evidence suggests that overcrowding in childhood affects aspects of adult health. The evidence on any relationship between overcrowding and mental health (children and adults) is inconclusive.

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) and its Operating Guidance is an assessment tool for local authorities to determine risks arising from a range of potential hazards (including overcrowding) across all tenures and to take appropriate enforcement action through Environmental Health Officers. The HHSRS was introduced in April 2006.

The HHSRS is evidence-based. It is supported by extensive reviews of the literature and by detailed analysis of statistical data on the impact of housing conditions on health.

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