Latest statistics released from the Department of Communities and Local Government have revealed that there has been a 37% increase in homeless children since 2014. Even more worryingly, the number of homeless children is rising by an extra 900 children per month. The Local Government Association (LGA) have called this growth “unsustainable”.
The BBC reported that local councils are providing 120,540 children and their families with temporary housing. Most families are spending more than a year in temporary housing, which could be a self-contained flat, a B&B room or a room in an emergency hostel.
There is a legal limit of six weeks on the amount of time that families can spend in B&B room. However, 1,290 families spent longer than this in them between January and March. This is due to housing shortages.
Devastating to health
The effects of homelessness on children are severe and plentiful:
- Being moved around from one temporary accommodation seriously impacts on a child’s education
- Not having a permanent home can cause chronic insecurity
- Families report visiting their doctor or hospital more frequently since becoming homeless
- Nearly all families believe their children’s health suffers due to living in temporary accommodation
No signs of improvement
It does not seem that this exponential increase in homeless children per month will be slowing down any time soon. Shelter’s director of campaigns and policy, Anne Baxendale, said that the situation is getting worse.
Every day we speak to families desperate to escape the dingy, cramped hostel room they are forced to live in. Overstretched councils can’t find them anywhere else.
The warnings have been thick and fast. Based on a Shelter report released at the end of June, The Guardian reported:
“More than a million households living in private rented accommodation are at risk of becoming homeless by 2020 because of rising rents, benefit freezes and a lack of social housing, according to a devastating new report into the UK’s escalating housing crisis.”
Affordable homes and welfare reforms
The country is in a severe crisis and the children are suffering. There are ways that the government can stop this.
The LGA says that councils must be able to build more affordable homes. In order to do this, councils need to be able to borrow to build and be able to keep 100% of the receipts of any home they sell to reinvest in housing.
Council leaders are also calling for welfare reforms so that the risk of homelessness can be reduced.
Will the government act?
A department for communities and local government spokesman said:
“This government is determined to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping – that is why we’re investing £550m to tackle the issue”
However, the shadow housing minister, John Healey, blamed the Conservatives for the housing shortage, saying it was a “direct result of decisions made by Conservative ministers”. He added:
“We have the lowest number of affordable homes for 24 years, no protection for private renters, and big cuts to charity and council budgets.”
It isn’t hard to see that the Conservatives’ actions are what has pushed the country further into this horrific crisis. They have repeatedly ignored warnings that children will directly suffer as a consequence of their policies.
Research showed that their recent welfare ‘shake up’ would push a quarter of a million children into poverty. The High Court ruled that the benefits cap they introduced was unfair to single mothers and children. Figures show that five families are made homeless every hour. Yet they do not listen.
- If you know anybody struggling through bad housing or homelessness, you can direct them to Shelter. They offer millions of people help by offering free advice, support and legal services.
- You can support Shelter by volunteering, campaigning, donating items or organising fund raising events
- Sign this petition that calls for the government to eliminate UK homelessness. They need to feel strong social pressure. We must demand more from them.
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