Housing

More than 130,000 children will be homeless this Christmas

A new report from Shelter estimates that 3,000 more kids will wake up on Christmas morning in hostels and B&Bs this year

Child poverty

For 131,000 children this Christmas, they will not wake up to a pile of presents under the tree – they will wake up in hostels, B&Bs and other temporary accommodation.

Estimates from homelessness charity Shelter found that 3,000 more children are homeless this Christmas – rising by three per cent since last year  – and the number has increased by 59 per cent in the last five years.

Of these, 9,500 will spend their Christmas in a hostel or B&B, often with one family in a single room, sharing bathrooms and kitchens with other residents.

The greatest increases have been seen in the East and North West of England where child homelessness levels have shot up by more than 170 per cent in the same time period while London is up 49 per cent to 87,310 people.

In the worst-affected local authority, Westminster, one in 11 children in the borough is homeless. In Kensington and Chelsea, which has the highest house prices in the country and was also rocked by the Grenfell Disaster last year, one in 12 children don’t have a home.

The rise means that one child in every 103 in Great Britain is homeless. The new statistics comes just days after the Joseph Rowntree Foundation released research of their own that suggested that child poverty had grown by 500,000 children over the last five years.

Shelter has been campaigning since 2012 for more affordable homes to be built to prevent the rise in the number of kids growing up in temporary accommodation.

Greg Beales, director of campaigns at Shelter, said, “No child should be homeless. But for the generation growing up in the housing crisis, this is the grim reality for many. The number of children hidden away in hostels and B&Bs is enough to make anyone’s heart sink. These are not places for children.

“Over the last five years, hundreds of thousands of children have known what it’s like to be homeless. The impact on these young people cannot be overstated. It doesn’t have to be this way. If we act now, we can change tomorrow to make sure every child has somewhere they can call home.”

Homelessness minister Heather Wheeler has pointed to the newly introduced Homelessness Reduction Act as evidence that the government and local authorities are trying to stem the tide of families forced into temporary accommodation.

“No family should be left without a roof over their head, especially during the winter months, and we are working to ensure all children have a safe place to stay where they can thrive,” said Wheeler. “We’re providing more than £1.2bn to tackle all forms of homelessness, including amongst children, and introduced the Homelessness Reduction Act to ensure people at risk get help quicker.”

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