What does the data say?
Unicef’s 2013 housing conditions affecting children in rich countries comparative overview 1
In Unicef’s 2013 housing conditions affect children in rich countries comparative overview, Unicef compares the world’s most advanced economies in relation to the numbers of rooms per person (overcrowding) and the percentage of households with children reporting more than one housing problem.
In many families, the modern era has seen a change in the makeup of homes, instead of having four or five siblings, today’s child more commonly has one or none. At the same time, rising divorce and separation rates, changes in family structure, and the rise of out of-home child care mean that many children live in homes that are significantly less crowded than in the past. Nonetheless, where overcrowding remains it is a significant factor in children’s wellbeing. Apart from the loss of opportunity for privacy, and for quiet time and study, overcrowding has also been linked to adverse effects on parenting behaviours and on children’s cognitive and emotional development, including increased risk of stress and behavioural difficulties.
According to Unicef’s report, in the UK, there are on average 1.3 rooms per person. The UK has the 7th highest number of rooms per person out of the rich 26 countries compared. Belgium and Ireland have the highest number of rooms per person, each with over 1.4 rooms. In 17 of 26 countries, the average home has more rooms than people. Of the nine countries with fewer rooms than people, eight are in Central and Eastern Europe. Hungary, Latvia and Romania have the lowest average numbers of room person, all with less than 0.8.
The percentage of households with children reporting more than one housing problem shows what percentage of households with children report more than two of
the following problems:
1. leaking roof, damp floors/walls/foundations/rot in windows
2. dwelling too dark
3. no bath or shower
4. no indoor flushing toilet for the
5. sole use of the household.
In terms of multiple housing problems, the report indicates that in the UK, approximately 4% of households with children are reporting more than one of the housing problems outlined above. The UK is mid table out of the 26 countries compared, but it is important to note that there is a considerable difference between the countries in with the highest percentages and the rest. The rate of multiple housing problems rises to more than 20% in Latvia and to almost 40% in Romania. Denmark, Iceland and Norway head the table with fewer than 1% of households reporting multiple housing problems.
It is important to note that one of the limitations of these league tables is that internationally comparable data on children’s lives is not sufficiently timely. Between the collection of data in a wide variety of different settings and their publication in quality-controlled, internationally comparable form, the time-lag is typically two to three years. This means that most of the statistics on child well-being used in this report, though based on the latest available data, apply to the period 2009–2010.
Bath and North East Somerset
The 2011 Bath & North East Somerset Private Sector Housing Stock Condition Survey (HCS) 2 was conducted to gain an understanding of housing conditions in owner occupied and privately rented dwellings. This report provides detail on the findings of the survey and, wherever possible, compares these results to established figures relating to social housing.
The survey was a sample survey of 1,000 dwellings which have been weighted to represent the private sector housing stock as a whole.
Key findings from the survey are:
- There are 77,530 domestic residential dwellings in Bath & North East Somerset of which 86% are owned privately and either occupied or rented to tenants.
- A higher proportion of dwellings are rented privately than is the case for England and this tenure has expanded extremely rapidly over the past ten years to now encompass more nearly 18% of dwellings in the district.
- There are more old dwellings in the district than the national average, more converted flats and more Houses in Multiple Occupation.
- Overall, 7,900 (12.1%) of dwellings have at least one resident with a health issue.
- Average house prices are above the average value across the UK and well above the average for the South West of England.
- A summary of dwellings conditions and issues affecting these are outlined in the following table (Table 1) gives a breakdown of key dwelling condition characteristics and compares these to the national average.
All Private Sector
Social rented housing5
Benefit receipt2 3
Household with resident over 65 years of age 3
Households with a disabled resident
Vulnerable households in Non-Decent Homes 3
Category 1 hazards
Thermal Comfort Failure
1.Percentages given as a proportion of total housing stock, the remaining 20% is all social housing, which was not surveyed as part of this study
2. Refers to households in receipt of an income or disability benefit, as defined under former Public Service Agreement 7 objectives
3. As a total and percentage of occupied dwellings
4. SAP is the government’s Standard Assessment Procedure for rating energy efficiency on a scale of 1 (poor) to 100 (excellent)
5. Figures for social rented housing come from the National Register of Social Housing (NROSH) and were up-to-date as of July 2011. These figures are self-reported by social landlords and are in no way verified or quality assured by any outside agencies.
Figures presented in Figure E1 for social housing stock are drawn from RSR returns for housing association (RSL) stock (2011). Where figures are not quoted, this is due to the absence of any available data for these tenures. Results from these data sources have, in no way, been tested or verified prior to use in this report.
The Decent Homes Standard
Around one quarter of the private sector homes are non-decent in Bath and North East Somerset compared to nearly one third non-decent in England as a whole. This is primarily due to lower levels of health and safety hazards due to a more urban housing stock than the national average; investment by more affluent owners and intervention by the Council.
The April 2013 Bath and North East Somerset Council Housing Assessment report includes an assessment of existing energy efficiency measures and the current (‘baseline’) energy efficiency status plus the potential to improve housing stock through the installation of energy efficiency, heating and renewable energy measures. 3
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)
Including S257 buildings approximately 9.5% of private residential buildings in Bath & North East Somerset are HMOs. This is just over three times the rate found in England overall, but is not unusual given the number of large Georgian and Victorian buildings, coupled with a substantial student population and large private rented sector.
At approximately 520 dwellings, long-term vacant dwellings represent a useful resource in Bath & North East Somerset that needs to continue to be addressed.
Illness, disability and adaptations
Table 2 provides a breakdown of residents with a health issue by tenure. For the owner occupied sector 12.4% of households contain a resident with a health issue, but in the private rented sector the figure is only 5.4%. Figure 3.8 further divides these into individual health issues and looks at these as a proportion of households with a health issue in owner occupied and privately rented dwellings.
Table 2 Residents with a health issue broken down by tenure (Source: House Condition Survey 2011) Health Issue
Cardio vascular condition
Long standing illness
Mental health condition
Total Household Type
- The total cost of all adaptations and equipment that could potentially be fitted to benefit residents with a disability is just under £15.4 million.
- Some dwellings may benefit from more than one adaptation and as a result, the 6,310 adaptations would be distributed across 4,740 dwellings with a resident with a disability; that represents 62% of all dwellings where a resident with a disability lives in B&NES and 7.1% of all private sector dwellings in B&NES.
- 1. Unicef Research (2013) Child well-being in rich countries: A comparative overview, http://www.unicef.org.uk/Images/Campaigns/FINAL_RC11-ENG-LORES-fnl2.pdf (downloaded 31/01/14)
- 2. All content adapted from: (2012) Opinion Research Services Bath and North East Somerset Council: Private Sector Housing Stock Condition Survey, http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/sites/default/files/siteimages/Housing/Strategyandperformance/bath_and_north_east_somerset_housing_stock_condition_survey_-_final_report_oct_12.pdf (accessed 25/01/13)
- 3. B&NES Council Housing Assessment Final Report April 2013