PILC, along with Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth (HASL) and over thirty other signatories, has written to Southwark Council about the local authority’s treatment of overcrowded families.

PILC and HASL have been supporting a number of severely overcrowded families who have been blamed and penalised by Southwark for ‘deliberately’ causing their overcrowding. In some cases, the has council demoted families to Band 4 (the very bottom of the housing register) where they will never be able to access the permanent council housing they desperately need. These practices continued during the peak of the Covid 19 pandemic, when the heightened vulnerabilities of those living in overcrowded housing were clear.

Our open letter highlights how the council’s policies and practices on overcrowding penalise households from low-income and BAME and migrant backgrounds, who often simply cannot afford less overcrowded housing, as well as facing additional barriers such as the government’s racist Right to Rent policy.

The letter calls on Southwark to remove the concept of ‘deliberate act’ from its policy, and to stop arguing that families who have been forced to reside in severely overcrowded conditions have ‘deliberately worsened their circumstances.’ Instead of fuelling a culture of blame and refusal, Southwark must support low income, BAME and migrant families according to their housing need.

A full press release can be downloaded here.