MORE than 1,500 Bradford households are living in overcrowded accommodation, with a leading housing think tank warning they are more vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic.
With Covid-19 cases spreading across the UK, the Government is advising people to practise social distancing, while those with symptoms have been told to isolate themselves indoors.
But think tank the Resolution Foundation said many households will struggle to follow safety guidance because they are in cramped or crowded housing, and called on the Government to consider the impact on such groups when issuing health advice.
The latest Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures show there were 1,739 households on the housing waiting list in Bradford in 2018-19 who were living in overcrowded, unsanitary or unsatisfactory conditions.
Across England as a whole, the figure was almost 250,000.
But the numbers only include those waiting for new social housing, with the latest English Housing Survey finding that 788,000 households are in overcrowded conditions – including more than one in 20 private renters.
Public Health England advises that people displaying coronavirus symptoms such as a cough or high temperature should stay at home for seven days.
It also recommends they stay away as much as possible from vulnerable people in their home, sleep in separate beds, and use separate bathrooms if possible.
Lindsay Judge, principal research and policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said self-isolation for families in overcrowded accommodation "is likely to prove especially difficult".
She said: "Finding and providing adequate housing for all should be a long-term priority for the Government.
"For now, it’s essential policymakers consider the impact on all groups when issuing health advice, and ensure everyone is supported to protect themselves as best as possible."
New figures also show there were 50 households living in temporary hostels and B&Bs in Bradford at the end of September – six of them families with children.
They were among 13,560 homeless households across England stuck in such accommodation, of which 5,400 contained children.
Housing charity Shelter says households in these kinds of temporary accommodation have to share kitchen and bathroom facilities with strangers, often sleep in a single room, and may even share a bed.
Public Health England says "local authority public health, housing and social care teams are encouraged to work closely together to identify appropriate local solutions for people who don’t have anywhere to self-isolate".
An MHCLG spokesman said: "Public safety and protecting the most vulnerable people in society from coronavirus is this government’s top priority.
"We are working closely with councils and charities to ensure families have the support they need throughout this period.”