Over 4,500 primary school classes worth of homeless children are spending Christmas in temporary accommodation amid concerns of a national homelessness crisis.
Over 4,500 primary school classes worth of homeless children are spending Christmas in temporary accommodation amid concerns of a national homelessness crisis, the Local Government Association warns today.
Latest figures for England show there are a total of 120,710 dependent homeless children living in temporary accommodation, with 2,320 of these in bed and breakfasts.
The LGA said the number of children who will be waking up on Christmas morning in temporary accommodation highlights the urgent need to ensure the building of more affordable homes to rent and ensuring the private rented sector is affordable for people claiming housing related benefits.
Councils have great ambition to get on with building homes, with land for more than 2.6 million homes allocated in Local Plans and nine in 10 planning applications being approved. But the right powers must be provided to incentivise developers to get building, including being able to charge full council tax for every unbuilt development from the point the original planning permission expires.
Meanwhile, Local Housing Allowance rates have been frozen since March 2020 meaning the private sector is becoming less and less feasible for households dependent on housing support.
With the number of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions increasing, the cost of living continuing to rise and more Ukrainian arrivals presenting as homeless, councils are increasingly concerned of a national homelessness crisis. These pressures, combined with depleting social housing stock and an unaffordable and overly competitive private rented market, feels like a perfect storm for services trying to prevent homelessness.
The LGA says urgent work is needed 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.
It says the Government must look at developing a cross-departmental homelessness prevention strategy which addresses the drivers and levers of homelessness within policy which reviews Local Housing Allowance rates, prioritises a significant increase in social housing and uses the upcoming renter’s reform to create a private rented sector that is safe, stable, and affordable.
Cllr David Renard, LGA housing spokesperson, said:
“Living in temporary accommodation can cause great disruption for children and families and is especially difficult for many families at Christmas time. As we face the reality of a national homelessness crisis, it is crucial we make addressing the chronic housing shortage a priority.
“Suitable housing must be found for those already homeless, but we must also ensure everything possible is being done to combat the rising cost of living and prevent further people from becoming homeless.
“The best way to improve housing security is to address the unaffordability of housing by giving councils the right powers and investment to build 100,000 new social rent homes a year, and to reform the Right to Buy scheme so that it is more sustainable. Government should also use the upcoming finance settlement to urgently review Local Housing Allowance rates to ensure that at least a third of the market is affordable for people claiming housing related benefits.”
Notes to Editors:
Statutory homelessness statistics in England: April to June 2022
Number of primary school classes equivalent calculated based on the average primary school class size being 26.6.