Around 450 primary schools’ worth of homeless children are spending lockdown in temporary accommodation amid a chronic shortage of affordable housing, the Local Government Association warns.
Latest figures for England show there are 127,240 children living in temporary accommodation, including 1,440 households with children in bed and breakfasts.
The LGA said the number of children having to spend the latest national lockdown in temporary accommodation reinforces the urgent need for the Government to ensure building of more affordable homes to rent, which is central to our recovery from the pandemic.
Following the extension to the ban on bailiff enforcement action, the LGA has set out a six-point plan of further action the Government can take during these critical weeks to protect renters and prevent further homelessness once the ban is lifted. It says this is crucial to minimise the disruption to children’s schooling and home lives as a result of the lockdown.
Cllr David Renard, LGA Housing Spokesperson, 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.
“Our six-point plan 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.
“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.”
Responding to an LGA report, Cllr Giles Archibald, District Councils’ Network Better Lives Spokesperson, 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. Councils, landlords, charities and other partners are all working hard to support families, but the rising costs for providing temporary accommodation is not sustainable.
“This is why government needs to act now by permanently lifting housing benefit for tenants in private rented housing to invest in a renaissance of council housebuilding to provide much-needed affordable homes with the support of local councils. This would guarantee a roof over the head of those who need it the most in our communities.”
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