Enough children living in temporary housing to fill 450 primary schools
The number of children living in temporary accommodation during the latest coronavirus lockdown is enough to fill 450 primary schools, town halls warn today.
Some 127,240 kids are in accommodation such as bed and breakfasts, according to the Local Government Association.
The average primary has about 281 pupils – meaning 450 schools would be needed to house all the youngsters with no home of their own.
The LGA said the figures showed “the urgent need for the Government to ensure the building of more affordable homes to rent, which is central to our recovery from the pandemic”.
Housing spokesman David Renard said: “Living in temporary accommodation is disruptive and challenging for children and their families in normal times.
“These pressures will be being compounded by going into another lockdown, and on top of that some are unable to attend school.”
The LGA unveiled a six-point plan, including maintaining the £20-a-week rise in Universal Credit beyond April, making it easier for councils to buy empty properties, and building 100,000 social homes for rent every year.
Other measures include reviewing the impact of the benefits cap, “ensuring that councils have enough resources to support households at risk of homelessness” and speeding-up plans to scrap “no-fault” evictions.
Mr Renard said implementing the recommendations “would give councils a better chance of being able to move homeless children into permanent accommodation and also minimise the risk of other households becoming homeless as a result of the pandemic”.
He added: “This should include 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.”
District Councils’ Network spokesman Giles Archibald said: “Many families were already struggling to keep a roof over their heads before the coronavirus struck.
“This has now been made much worse by the pandemic, and councils have long warned that the impact of job losses and falls in income would force more families into hardship and homelessness.
“Living in temporary accommodation is challenging for families, particularly whilst schools and many workplaces are having to remain closed during this lockdown – and my heart goes out to those who are trying to manage this difficult situation.”
Housing charity Shelter said “emergency measures are vital, but they are short term solutions”.
Chief executive Polly Neate said: “It’s horrific to think so many children are having to cope with the added trauma of homelessness during this pandemic.
“Instead of feeling safe, these children are spending their vital early years in unstable, cramped and often inadequate temporary accommodation.
“Life in temporary accommodation is hugely destabilising at the best of times, but during another lockdown, with many parents having to home school, the impact on a child’s life chances is even more disruptive.
“Without action, the extra harm being done to homeless children may never be undone.”
She added: “We will not end homelessness without permanent homes, which are safe, secure and genuinely affordable.
“To protect these children’s futures the government must get on with building the social homes this country needs.”
A Housing Department spokeswoman said: “Reducing the number of households in temporary accommodation is a priority – that’s why we are investing over £750million next year to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.
“We're also increasing the supply of affordable housing, investing over £12billion through our Affordable Homes Programmes.
“This includes the largest cash investment in affordable housing for a decade, delivering up to 180,000 new homes, with around 32,000 social rent homes.
“Our Homelessness Reduction Act has helped over 270,000 households who were homeless or at risk of homelessness into more permanent accommodation since it came into force in 2018.”
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