130,000 Children Are Homeless

The number of homeless children has hit a 14-year high – with almost 130,000 stuck in B&Bs and temporary shelter.

Devastating new figures today show there were 129,380 children living in temporary accommodation in England on March 31, reports housing charity Shelter. The number is up 3.1% on last year and is the highest quarterly figure recorded since summer 2006. More than two-thirds of all people stuck in temporary accommodation – a measure of homeless – have dependent children living with them. And some 1,550 parents with children are living in what are supposed to be short-term B&Bs. While that was a 29% drop on last year, 530 of those parents had still been in B&Bs beyond the legal limit of six weeks. Overall the number of households in temporary accommodation soared 9.4% on last year to 93,000.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said this rise was largely driven by single households and may be linked to the coronavirus ‘Everyone In’ scheme. The scheme took rough sleepers off the streets and housed them in places like hotels – upping the number of people in temporary accommodation.

Shadow Housing Secretary Thangam Debbonaire said: “These figures highlight the urgent need to extend the evictions ban, to avoid thousands more people being made homeless in the run up to winter. Before Covid, we already had devastatingly high numbers in temporary accommodation as a direct result of 10 years of Conservative government, whose policies have pushed people into poverty. The Government have known for months that an evictions crisis is looming. Not for the first time, it has been too slow to take action and we’re now facing a potential disaster if the ban is lifted with no plan for what comes next.”

In three months, almost 5,000 households were threatened with homelessness after being served a ‘no fault’ eviction notice. A quarter of all households who applied to their council for help were renting from a private landlord at the time – 19,160.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter said: “Thousands more renters have since had their lives turned upside down as the country descends into economic free-fall. With daily news of new job cuts and the eviction ban set to lift on Monday, the coming months are likely to see a devastating homelessness crisis unfold unless the government steps in to safeguard people’s homes. Some may even face sleeping on the streets as councils struggle to cope with the intense pressure on oversubscribed services.”

The total number of households considered homeless or at risk (75,140) was 2.4% higher by March 31 than the equivalent period last year. There was a greater annual rise in the number of households considered homeless – 7.6% up from the 34,110 households in the same quarter in 2019. The government said many of these households would not have been eligible for help prior to the Homelessness Reduction Act that came into force in 2018. Therefore, it said, it was unclear if the rise is due to more households becoming homeless or more being offered help.