MORE than enough children to fill a primary school face the risk of becoming homeless during the summer holidays, town hall chiefs have warned.
The next Prime Minister must make tackling homelessness an urgent priority when he arrives at Number 10 later this week, says the Local Government Association (LGA).
The organisation warns that on the trends it has seen over the last two years, an estimated 320 homeless children in England could be placed in temporary accommodation over the next six weeks.
This number would exceed the size of an average primary school, which has 282 pupils, it says.
“While for many children the summer holidays will be a break from school to be enjoyed with family and friends, for others they face the tragedy of becoming homeless,” said Councillor Martin Tett, the LGA’s housing spokesperson.
“It is not right that hundreds of children risk enduring the disruption of being placed into temporary accommodation.
“Councils desperately want to find every family a good, quality home, but the lack of available housing is making this an almost insurmountable challenge.
“This is why we are urging the Prime Minister to make tackling homelessness a priority.”
According to latest government figures, there are more than 124,490 children living in temporary accommodation.
The LGA says that the “severe shortage” of social rented homes available to house families means councils have no choice but to place households into temporary accommodation, including bed and breakfasts.
Not only is this financially unsustainable for councils, it is also “extremely disruptive” to the families and children involved.
Placements in temporary accommodation can present serious challenges for families – from parents’ employment and health to children’s ability to focus on school studies and form friendships.
The LGA is calling on the new Prime Minister and his government to introduce a range of measures to help councils tackle homelessness, and to give them the “tools and powers” to resume their historic role as major housebuilders of good, quality affordable homes for social rent.
It says councils should be allowed to keep 100% of receipts of council homes sold under Right to Buy – to reinvest in new replacement homes – and to also be able to set Right to Buy discounts locally.
Furthermore, the LGA says that councils are facing a £421 million funding gap by 2025 to tackle homelessness, prompting it to urge the Government to use the Spending Review to give councils long-term sustainable funding to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place.
It is also calling on the Government to adapt welfare reforms so local housing allowance rates go back to covering at least the lower 30% of market rents.
Tett added: “While it was good the Government lifted the housing borrowing cap to give councils more freedom to build new homes, the new Prime Minister should take this even further and in the Spending Review give councils the tools they need to resume their historic role of building the homes the country needs.”