123,000 children now live in temporary housing. The latest homelessness figures shame this government.

A temporary housing block
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On 27 June, the Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government released [pdf] the statutory homelessness statistics for January to March 2018.

They revealed that 123,130 children or expected children are currently living [pdf, p15] in temporary accommodation in England. This government should hang its head in shame.

Cold hard stats

The report states [pdf, p1] that:

On 31 March 2018 the number of households in temporary accommodation was 79,880, up 3% from 77,220 on 31 March 2017, and up 66% on the low of 48,010 on 31 December 2010.

While the number of households accepted as homeless has actually fallen [pdf, p1] since the start of 2017, the number placed in temporary accommodation has continued its meteoric rise.

This means that three out of every 1,000 households now live [pdf, p12] in temporary accommodation in the UK. That computes as 123,130 children or expected children currently living [pdf, p15] in temporary housing. And 2,180 households with dependent or expected children are living [pdf, p15] in B&B accommodation.

Meanwhile 28% of households are in [pdf, p16] temporary accommodation outside of the borough in which they applied. This forces children to travel hours to school or move entirely.

Read on...

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No picnic

In December 2017, Labour MP Rosena Allin-Khan challenged Theresa May about the number of children spending Christmas in temporary accommodation. May responded by saying:

Anybody hearing that will assume what that means is that 2,500 children will be sleeping on our streets. It does not. It does not mean that.

Yet temporary accommodation horror stories are becoming more and more common. For example:

  • A family of five living in one hotel room off a motorway in Birmingham.
  • 200 children forced to live in a ‘modern day slum’ on an industrial estate in Surrey.
  • A pregnant woman living in a portable hut in Bristol.

No options

A council provides households with temporary accommodation when it has no other options. Since 2011, councils have been allowed to discharge their duty to applicants though sourcing private rented accommodation as well as council/housing association tenancies. But despite the government giving councils increased flexibility, temporary accommodation numbers continue to rise.

One telling statistic in the report is that, of the 13,740 households accepted [pdf, p1] as homeless this year, only 5% of these were offered [pdf, p12] a social housing tenancy. And only 1% accepted [pdf, p12] an offer of private rented accommodation.

This speaks volumes.

Government figures for the last year show that “only one social home is built for almost every three sold off”. And despite recently announcing a funding boost to build more ‘affordable housing’, if Right to Buy sales continue at this same rate then social housing stock will still continue to reduce.

Furthermore, the government has frozen housing benefit rates until 2020 and continues with its cruel benefit cap.

This has created a toxic mix where councils don’t have the housing stock to relieve homelessness with social housing, and the private rental market is too expensive, forcing them to look to temporary accommodation to pick up the pieces.

The final straw

Temporary accommodation is a last resort for a reason. The government must give councils more housing options. Otherwise, the number of children growing up in insecure, appalling housing will only increase.

Get Involved!

– Support Generation Rent‘s fight for private sector reform.

– Help Focus E15‘s fight against social cleansing.

– Find out about Streets Kitchen‘s brilliant outreach work.

Featured image via Channel4News/YouTube

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