OVER 4,500 PRIMARY SCHOOL CLASSES worth of homeless children are spending the summer holidays in temporary accommodation in England, amid a national shortage of affordable housing, says the Local Government Association (LGA).
Latest figures for England show there are 119,840 children living in temporary accommodation, including 1,700 households with children in bed and breakfasts.
The LGA said the number of children who will be spending the summer holidays in temporary accommodation reinforces the urgent need to ensure building of more affordable homes to rent and has set out a plan of further action the Government can take to prevent further homelessness.
It says this is crucial 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.
There are also concerns around the rising cost of living and the potential for an increase in the number of homeless presentations, which will likely include more children.
Cllr David Renard, LGA housing spokesperson, said: “Living in temporary accommodation can cause great disruption for children and families. After two years of disruption to our children’s education and social development, it is crucial we make addressing the chronic housing shortage a priority.
“As well as looking to find suitable housing for those already homeless, we also must ensure everything possible is being done to combat the rising cost of living and prevent further homelessness, which will inevitably lead to more children in temporary accommodation.
“We have identified eight points to give councils a better chance of being able to help homeless children to find permanent accommodation and minimise the risk of other households becoming homeless as a result of the rising cost of living.
“This includes ensuring the welfare system is able to support families facing hardship and increasing the housing supply available to councils, as well as powers for councils to acquire empty properties and build much-needed social housing.
“The Government’s upcoming cross-departmental rough sleeping strategy must also look at wider homelessness issues, including family homelessness, and consider the impact the cost-of-living crisis is expected to have on homelessness services.”
The LGA is calling for a package of measures including:
- Powers for councils to acquire empty homes, including making it easier to use Compulsory Purchase Order powers to buy properties and help move households on from temporary accommodation.
- Ensuring sufficient protection through the mainstream benefits system. This includes restoring and retaining the LHA rate at the lowest third of market rents and ensuring that Universal Credit and other key benefits are uprated in line with rising inflation.
- A review of the impact and effectiveness of welfare reforms that were introduced before the pandemic, in particular the household benefit cap.
- Ensuring that councils have enough resources to support households at risk of homelessness. The Household Support Fund is enabling councils to provide some much-needed crisis support, but the short-term, prescriptive nature of the funding makes it hard for councils to offer genuine and sustainable support.
- Urgently reviewing the funding and use of Discretionary Housing Payment to ensure that councils can use it to restore financial stability and sustain tenancies.
- Working with councils and housing providers to strengthen fair and effective debt management to improve support for vulnerable households in rent arrears.
- Setting out plans to deliver a step-change in social housing – the LGA is calling for 100,000 social homes for rent to be delivered every year. This must include reform to the Right to Buy scheme so councils can set discounts locally and retain 100 per cent of sales receipts.
- Bringing forward the Government’s pledge to end ‘no fault evictions’, which will prevent more households from becoming homeless.
* Source: Local Government Association