THE revelation that over 120,000 children are homeless and languishing in temporary accommodation is a “national disgrace”, says the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH).
As a politician, Labour’s shadow housing secretary John Healey took his condemnatory tone a note harsher, suggesting this “national shame” should be carved into this Conservative Government’s “political tombstone”.
These were reactions to the latest official quarterly homelessness figures, covering April to June 2018, released today.
They reveal that as of 30 June there were 82,310 households living in temporary accommodation. This is up 5% on the year before, and a “staggering” 71% rise on the 2010 figure. By 31 December that year, there were ‘only’ 48,010 households living in temporary accommodation.
In total, the latest ONS figures released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) show that there were 123,630 children living in households in temporary accommodation (61,480).
“These figures reveal the stark reality of the homelessness crisis we are facing in this country – the fact that more than 120,000 children were living in temporary accommodation in June 2018 is quite simply a national disgrace,” said Terrie Alafat CBE, the CIH’s chief executive.
“The number of households in temporary accommodation has increased by a staggering 71% since the low of December 2010 – this is frankly unacceptable. That figure includes almost 7,000 households – including more than 2,500 families with children – being forced to live in bed and breakfast accommodation, which is highly unsuitable.
“It is still very early days for the Homelessness Reduction Act, which came into force in April, but it does appear to be having an impact, with local authorities providing help for more people through their new duties. It’s crucial that the Government makes sure that councils have enough resources to deliver appropriate assistance effectively.”
Councillor Martin Tett, housing spokesperson for the Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales, said: “Many councils are struggling to cope with rising homelessness and to find suitable accommodation for those in need.
“The increasing use of temporary accommodation is not only financially unsustainable for councils, but it is hugely disruptive for those families placed in such accommodation. Every instance of homelessness is an individual tragedy and councils are determined to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place and support families affected.
“Councils need to keep 100% of the receipts of any homes they sell to replace them and reinvest in building more of the genuinely affordable homes they desperately need and the ability to adapt welfare reforms to prevent people from losing their home where possible.”
John Healey MP, Labour’s shadow housing secretary, said: “When this Conservative Government ends, the national shame of rising homelessness will be on its political tombstone. Homelessness fell at an unprecedented rate under Labour, but under the Tories even more children will be homeless this Christmas, with over 80,000 households and 120,000 children now without a home.
“This is a direct result of Conservative decisions to slash investment for affordable homes, cut back housing benefit, reduce funding for homelessness services, and deny protection to private renters. The next Labour Government will end rough sleeping within a Parliament and tackle the root causes of rising homelessness with more affordable homes and stronger rights for renters.”
The CIH’s Alafat added: “Ultimately, if we really want to tackle this issue we need to start building many more of the right homes, in the right places, at the right prices. For many people on lower incomes, the only truly affordable option is social rent – but our research shows we have lost more than 150,000 of these kind of homes between 2012 and 2017. It is vital that the Government supports councils and housing associations to build more homes for social rent.”