More than 300 children face becoming homeless during the school holidays this summer as a result of the housing crisis, the equivalent to a primary school’s worth of children, council leaders warn.
The Local Government Association (LGA) estimates 320 homeless children in England could be placed into temporary accommodation over the next six weeks, based on trends for the last two years. The number would exceed the size of an average primary school, which has 282 pupils.
The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, is calling on the new Prime Minister to make tackling homelessness an urgent priority when he arrives in 10 Downing Street next week.
According to latest government figures, there are more than 124,490 children living in temporary accommodation. The severe shortage of social rented homes available to house families means councils have no choice but to place households into temporary accommodation, including bed and breakfasts. Not only is this financially unsustainable for councils, it is also extremely disruptive to the families and children involved.
Placements in temporary accommodation can present serious challenges for families — from parents’ employment and health to children’s ability to focus on school studies and form friendships.
As part of its Councils Can campaign, the LGA wants the new Prime Minister and his government to introduce a range of measures to help councils tackle homelessness and to give them the tools and powers to resume their historic role as major housebuilders of good, quality affordable homes for social rent.
It says councils should be allowed to keep 100% of receipts of council homes sold under Right to Buy — to reinvest in new replacement homes — and to also be able to set Right to Buy discounts locally.
With councils facing a £421m funding gap by 2025 to tackle homelessness, the LGA is urging the Government to use the Spending Review to give councils long-term sustainable funding to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place.
It is also calling on the Government to adapt welfare reforms so local housing allowance rates go back to covering at least the lower 30% of market rents.
Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s Housing Spokesman, said: “While for many children the summer holidays will be a break from school to be enjoyed with family and friends, for others they face the tragedy of becoming homeless.
“It is not right that hundreds of children risk enduring the disruption of being placed into temporary accommodation.
“Councils desperately want to find every family a good, quality home, but the lack of available housing is making this an almost insurmountable challenge. This is why we are urging the Prime Minister to make tackling homelessness a priority.
“While it was good the Government lifted the housing borrowing cap to give councils more freedom to build new homes, the new Prime Minister should take this even further and in the Spending Review give councils the tools they need to resume their historic role of building the homes the country needs.”
The LGA’s #CouncilsCan campaign calls on the new Prime Minister to ensure the forthcoming Spending Review secures the future of vital local services and the long-term financial sustainability of councils. Visit the LGA’scampaign page for more information: www.local.gov.uk/spending-review-2019
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