Council leaders warn hundreds of children face homelessness during school holidays

Hundreds of children face becoming homeless during the school summer holidays because of the housing crisis, council leaders have warned.

The Local Government Association (LGA) estimates that 320 children in England could be placed in temporary accommodation over the next six weeks.

It is calling on the next prime minister to make tackling homelessness an urgent priority when he takes office next week.

The LGA said there are more than 124,490 children living in temporary accommodation and that the shortage of social rented homes available to house families means many households are placed into temporary accommodation.

It is urging the next government to introduce measures to help councils tackle homelessness and provide the tools and powers to “resume their historic role as major housebuilders of good-quality, affordable homes for social rent”.

Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s housing spokesman, said: “While for many children the summer holidays will be a break from school to be enjoyed with family and friends, for others they face the tragedy of becoming homeless.

“It is not right that hundreds of children risk enduring the disruption of being placed into temporary accommodation.

“Councils desperately want to find every family a good-quality home, but the lack of available housing is making this an almost insurmountable challenge.

“This is why we are urging the prime minister to make tackling homelessness a priority.

“While it was good the Government lifted the housing borrowing cap to give councils more freedom to build new homes, the new prime minister should take this even further and in the Spending Review give councils the tools they need to resume their historic role of building the homes the country needs.”

Housing Minister Heather Wheeler said: “No child should ever be left without a roof over their head, and we are working to ensure all families have a safe place to stay.

“As well as introducing the Homelessness Reduction Act last year, the Government has targeted funding at reducing the number of households in temporary accommodation as part of our £1.2bn programme.”

Greg Beales, campaigns director at Shelter, said: “No child should have to grow up without a safe place to call home, but this is increasingly the devastating outcome as more parents are plunged into crisis by expensive private rents, severe welfare cuts and a chronic lack of social homes.

“The impact homelessness has on children cannot be overstated. We’ve seen through our services and in countless research reports that children’s social wellbeing and mental health often suffers, with many feeling ashamed or becoming anxious and withdrawn.

“During term-time, we also know children can really struggle at school. Teachers have reported children turning up unprepared, falling asleep in class and behind with their work.

“Having a stable home is a fundamental human need, and it should be part of every childhood. That’s why we’ll be relentless in urging the new Prime Minister to deliver 3.1 million more social homes over the next 20 years.

“And in the meantime, we will continue to fight for housing benefit to be unfrozen and increased to at least cover the basic cost of private rents.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) David Jones / PA Wire.

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