The Office for National Statistics, using data from the 2021 Census, makes a judgement of whether a household’s accommodation is overcrowded, ideally occupied or under-occupied. This is based on the number of bedrooms a typical household of that size would require compared to the actual number of available bedrooms. The Bedroom Standard to calculate the number of bedrooms required says, for example, that two children of 9 or under need a bedroom and children over 10 should be in a bedroom of the same sex. Then an occupancy rating of:
- -1 or less implies that a household’s accommodation has fewer bedrooms than required (overcrowded)
- +1 or more implies that a household’s accommodation has more bedrooms than required (under-occupied)
- 0 suggests that a household’s accommodation has an ideal number of bedrooms
We have looked at the data for Leicester. The chart below summarizes some numbers. In Leicester, 12% of households are classified as overcrowded. This compares to 0.9% of households in Leicestershire (excluding Leicester) and 2.2% in England. Leicester does, therefore, see a relatively high rate of household overcrowding. Interestingly, however, most households are classified as having more bedrooms than needed, even in Leicester. Specifically, 52.2% of households in Leicester have more bedrooms than needed. In Leicestershire this proportion is 79.8%.
An alternative measure of overcrowding is based on the number of rooms, and not just the number of bedrooms. The data from this gives a very similar picture, as we show below. On this criteria, 13.3% of households in Leicester are classified as having too few rooms and 60.4% as having too many rooms. Again, therefore, the balance is towards having too many rooms rather than too few.
One important caveat to keep in mind is that we are measuring households rather than people. Overcrowded households will naturally have more people living in them than houses with spare rooms. The proportion of people living in overcrowded accommodation will, thus, be larger than the proportion of households with overcrowded accommodation. Even so, we see that there is seemingly no shortage of rooms or bedrooms in Leicester. The problem is how those rooms are distributed across households.