Education & Family

Homeless Christmas faced by 117,000 children

Unhappy child Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Living in temporary accommodation can disrupt a child's education

At least 117,000 children are set to face Christmas homeless and in temporary accommodation in England this year, new data shows.

Government statistics show 74,630 households, nearly 80% of them with children, were being housed temporarily by the end of September.

Charities said the figures continued a rising trend, and painted a desperate picture of the trauma of homelessness.

The government said it was committed to supporting society's most vulnerable.

This was why the Department for Communities and Local Government was investing over £550m to tackle and reduce homelessness, it said.

'Root causes?'

But Gavin Smart, deputy chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said the most worrying thing was that an increase in the levels of homelessness had become predictable.

"Yet again the number of homeless households has increased and there was a 9% climb in the number of households living in temporary accommodation last quarter, when compared to the same period in 2015.

"This is a rising trend that shows no sign of reversing.

"Some positive moves were made in the Autumn Statement to address rough sleeping and tackle the shortage of affordable housing which remains one of the root causes of homelessness.

"But it is clear we still need a much more joined up, strategic effort from government to tackle what has now become a seemingly inevitable quarterly increase in homelessness levels in the UK."

"No one should be without a home at Christmas but homelessness is a problem all year round and one the government must make a top priority."

Figures also revealed that 21,400 households - a third of those in temporary lodgings - had been moved away from where they became homeless to a different council area.


Chief executive of housing charity Shelter Campbell Robb said: "Today's figures paint a desperate picture of the thousands of families facing not only the trauma of homelessness, but also the prospect of having to move away from their friends, families and everything they hold dear.

"It's especially heart breaking to know that so many children will find themselves waking up without somewhere to call home this Christmas morning."

Research by Shelter found that most moves are to a neighbouring local authority. Three quarters of moves are to a neighbouring local authority.

This is means that one in four moves are a significant distance away from their local area, beyond a reasonable travelling distance of local services, families' neighbourhood, support networks and children's schools.

A quick look back at the statistics, published quarterly, over the last few years shows there is little movement between the third and second quarters.

The figures also showed evictions from the private rented sector were the leading cause of homelessness, with 18,820 households being homeless after an eviction last year.

This was 12% higher than a year ago.

But the government quoted other figures showing the number of households accepted as being statutorily homeless (a different measure of homelessness) between 1 July and 30 September 2016, was down 1% on the previous quarter.

And it highlighted that the number of people found to be homeless is down by 58% from the 2003-04 peak.

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