The study by Cambridge University's Engineering Department also found that households receiving housing benefit were more likely to be undersized, with ‘spare’ bedrooms required for other uses.
The findings point to the importance of analysing ‘space’ when considering housing policy rather than the number of rooms. The UK has the smallest homes by floor area in Europe, and there is also an imbalance between the distribution of the population, which is mostly one- and two-person households, and the distribution of homes, which mostly have three or more bedrooms.
“Spare bedrooms are a misconception in many homes, as the lack of space means that any extra bedrooms are needed for other uses,” said Malcolm Morgan, a PhD student in the University’s Department of Engineering, who led the research. The so-called bedroom tax, introduced by the coalition government in 2013, withdraws up to 25% of housing benefit from social housing tenants if they have a ‘spare’ bedroom.
Researchers hope that the new method of measuring space based on analysing existing housing with a modern space standard, can be used to inform future housing policy.
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