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Almost 120,000 children living in temporary accommodation, according to new data

Local government leaders warn that figures showing a rise in the number of children living in temporary accommodation due to homelessness could worsen with the cost of living crisis.

16/08/22

Almost 120,000 children living in temporary accommodation, according to new data

Almost 120,000 homeless children are spending the summer holidays in temporary accommodation amid a national shortage of affordable housing, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned.

Latest figures for England show there are 119,840 children – the equivalent of 4,500 primary school classes – living in temporary accommodation, including 1,700 households with children in bed and breakfasts.

The LGA says that the shocking figures are a result of the “urgent need to ensure building of more affordable homes to rent”.

It says this is crucial to prevent further disruption to children’s schooling, home lives and social lives, which have already been significantly impacted as a result of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

There are also concerns around the rising cost of living and the potential for an increase in the number of homeless presentations, which will likely include more children.

If a family has been accepted onto the council’s housing list as homeless, they will be placed in temporary accommodation while they wait for their new home. This can be emergency accommodation, or so-called ‘self-contained’ (long term) temporary accommodation also known as ‘stage 2'.

“Living in temporary accommodation can cause great disruption for children and families,” Cllr David Renard, LGA housing spokesperson said. “After two years of disruption to our children’s education and social development, it is crucial we make addressing the chronic housing shortage a priority.”

“As well as looking to find suitable housing for those already homeless, we also must ensure everything possible is being done to combat the rising cost of living and prevent further homelessness, which will inevitably lead to more children in temporary accommodation.”

Council leaders say that central government needs to focus on ensuring sufficient protection through the mainstream benefits system, including restoring and retaining the LHA rate at the lowest third of market rents and ensuring that Universal Credit and other key benefits are uprated in line with rising inflation.

The LGA says councils could also have a better chance of being able to help homeless children to find permanent accommodation and minimise the risk of other households becoming homeless as a result of the rising cost of living if councils had powers to acquire empty homes. These powers could also include making it easier to use Compulsory Purchase Order powers to buy properties and help move households on from temporary accommodation.

Cllr Rennard says the Government’s upcoming cross-departmental rough sleeping strategy must also look at wider homelessness issues, including family homelessness, and consider the impact the cost-of-living crisis is expected to have on homelessness services.

Earlier this year, researchers found that the human rights of children living in temporary accommodation in London were being violated as a result of “persistent policy failures by central and local government”.

A report by Human Rights Watch and the Childhood Trust said the Government was failing in its duty to provide adequate housing for homeless families.

Speaking to people who were currently living in, or had recently left, temporary accommodation, the research uncovered instances of families living in conditions including toxic mould, cold temperatures and inadequate space.

Read the full report “I Want Us to Live Like Humans Again”: Families in Temporary Accommodation in London, UK”: https://www.hrw.org/node/380922

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