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Social Justice

Half of kids in English private rents are living in poverty

The study calls for real social housing investment by the government to help pull families out of the mire

Nearly half of children living in privately rented homes in England live in poverty, new research has revealed.

A study by the National Housing Federation (NHF) found that around 1.3 million children in private rentals fall below the poverty line – a 69 per cent (537,325) increase since 2008.

The report blamed unaffordable property prices and insufficient social housing for the boom in families, who have already been hit by tax credits cuts and the Universal Credit roll out, staying in private rentals.

Despite the high poverty rates, seven in ten of the families are in work. The NHF is demanding the government create more social housing to help pull low-income families out homes they cannot afford and out of poverty.

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “It is a disgrace that in one of the wealthiest countries in the world we cannot provide our children with a secure and affordable home.

“The critical lack of social housing is pushing more and more families into poverty by forcing them into insecure privately rented homes they cannot afford.

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“It’s so obvious that we need to be building more social housing and the government has a duty to our children to invest in this. This means increasing funding for social housing and urgently reforming the way that land is sold in this country.

“We will only be able to build desperately needed social homes for children living in poverty if housing associations have access to land instead of the current situation where they are forced to bid directly against private developers who make millions from luxury properties.”

Over 10 years the number of low-income families renting has grown by more than three quarters, which was faster than couples and single people.

The NHF also said almost a quarter-of-a-million of these children would not be living in poverty if their families could access social housing.

Darren Baxter, housing policy and partnerships manager for JRF said: “It is not right that any child should be swept into poverty, or live in a family which struggles to keep food on the table or a roof over their head. But this is the reality for more than four million children in the UK – and it doesn’t have to be this way.

“Many families are now unable to access low-cost rented homes and this means they can be stuck in expensive or unsuitable accommodation, despite the fact that more people are in work than ever.

“Working families are increasingly being swept into poverty by their essential costs such as housing, and we need to see decisive action to tackle this. As well as making sure that work is a route out of poverty, we need to see a step change in the number of low-cost rented homes being built and made available for those who need them.

“That’s why we are calling on government to set out a plan to increase the supply of social housing, at rent levels that ensure affordability for families on low incomes.”

Last year the NHF and Crisis announced that 90,000 new social homes would need to be built in England each year to meet demand. However, in 2018, 6,463 were built.

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