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A third of working-class households suffer from mental health implications due to a lack of access to space

NEARLY a third of working-class households suffer from deteriorating mental health due to a lack of access to space, a new study reveals.

The research, conducted by self-storage firm Stashbee, suggests that 29 per cent of people on low incomes who live in cramped city accommodation are taking a psychological hit.

Just under a quarter – 24 per cent – are in desperate need of extra storage space but cannot afford to rent warehouse storage facilities, the company said.

Increased demand during the Covid-19 pandemic has led to the industry experiencing its “greatest occupancy levels on record,” it revealed, with 82 per cent of units nationwide taken and prices rising sharply from an average of 50p per square foot to 86p.

About 12 per cent of lower earners have been forced to keep their personal belongings in more than one property as a result, Stashbee said.

Just over three in 10 – 32 per cent – have excess space in their home that could be rented out, but they are unwilling to take on a permanent lodger, the research suggests.

This figure rises to 45 per cent of those on high incomes.

Significant class disparities are also at play, with about 4.3 million middle-class households enjoying the luxury of extra space, as opposed to less than 2.3 million of their working-class counterparts.

Stashbee co-founder and chairman Anthony Paine said: “The pandemic put a renewed focus on our homes and highlighted more than ever that having enough space to live comfortably is not just desirable, it’s essential for a balanced life.

“Whilst the UK’s storage industry is growing, we are still well behind many other countries in terms of the amount of storage space available per person,” he pointed out.

“What’s more, most of this space is dominated by a small number of companies, concentrated in clusters that most people can’t access, and it’s costly.

“There are clear trends to show that people simply don’t have access to the space they need.

“Meanwhile, there are at least 2.5 billion square feet of unused storage and parking space in this country that could be put to work.

“That’s the same amount of space as a huge square going from Wembley to Wimbledon, to Lewisham to Walthamstow, and back again.”

Unite head of community Liane Groves told the Morning Star: “England has the smallest homes by floor space compared with its EU counterparts. The ‘lack of regulation’ culture assiduously cultivated by the Tories over the last decade helps the housing developers but penalises low-income families who have no choice than to live in cramped conditions.

“The government needs to act now and ensure all new builds have adequate room for people to live in with dignity. There needs to be a real and sincere push by ministers to ensure a rapid increase in social housing construction with adequate space for modern living arrangements made mandatory by law.”

A spokesperson for community union Acorn backed the call, stressing there must not be a "trade off between this need for housing, developers' profits and the health, wellbeing and quality of life of residents.

"Similarly, the below par standards of existing housing stock should not be ignored or allowed to continue unchecked," the spokesperson told the Star.

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