Almost 30,000 lone parent families made homeless in England in 2017

By Hannah Richardson
BBC News education reporter

Media caption,
Ed Thomas met parents in Oldham who struggle to buy food and basic necessities for their children

Almost 30,000 single parent families were made homeless last year, up 8% on five years ago, according to new official figures.

Housing charity Shelter said government figures also reveal that nearly three-quarters of homeless households in England are lone parent families.

Shelter said lone parents were bearing the brunt of the housing crisis, by juggling part-time work and childcare.

The government said it was investing £1.2bn in tackling homelessness.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: "Of the thousands of families battling with the grim reality of homelessness, the vast majority are single parents."

Their limited incomes make it hard for them to contend with high private rents and welfare cuts, she added.

'Safety net?'

Dalia Ben-Galim, policy director at charity Gingerbread, said more and more single parents were reaching out to the charity for advice and support when facing eviction and homelessness.

"The vast majority of single parents are working.

"But with a perfect storm of rising living costs, stagnating wages and changes to the benefit system eroding an essential safety net for families, single parents are hard hit and struggling to keep a roof above their children's heads."

She added that Universal Credit and the benefit cap must be reformed to reduce the disproportionate negative impact changes are having on single parents.

The vast majority of families with children will be housed in temporary accommodation rather than being left to sleep rough.

The statistics, published on Thursday, also show the number of households in temporary accommodation has risen by nearly two-thirds since 2010.


Image source, Getty Images

On 31 December last year, 78,930 households were in temporary accommodation, up 64% since the start of the decade.

The figure was also 4% higher than last year, when there were 75,740.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, said: "Temporary accommodation is often cramped, unsuitable and sometimes even dangerous.

"It can have a devastating impact on people's lives and mental health, and it's no place for anyone to call home."

Homelessness minister Heather Wheeler said: "Government is serious about reducing homelessness and rough sleeping - we're investing £1.2bn to 2020 to address the issue and next month sees the most ambitious legislation in decades to prevent homelessness come into force.

"These latest statistics show encouraging signs that our investment and targeted support for local authorities is having a positive impact."

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