Child homelessness rockets in the UK

Shelter says a child loses their home every eight minutes

(Image credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

At least 135,000 children will be homeless and living in temporary accommodation across Britain on Christmas day, according to housing charity Shelter.

The rate of child homelessness is at its highest for 12 years, the charity says. It calculates that a child loses their home every eight minutes – 183 children per day.

If the current pace continues, 1,647 children will become homeless between now and the general election on 12 December, and more than 4,000 by 25 December.

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In England, there are also 4,470 families with children who are homeless but have sourced their own temporary accommodation. Although these families are not included in Shelter's figures, they are also officially without a home.

Shelter’s report spotlighted the story of Will, whose family was made homeless after a Section 21 “no-fault” eviction and now lives in a single room in a bed and breakfast in Ilford, east London.

“Life in the B&B is horrible, it's worse than being in a real-life horror film,” said the 10-year-old.

Shelter’s chief executive, Polly Neate, said: “The fact 183 children become homeless every day is a scandalous figure and a sharp reminder that political promises about tackling homelessness must be turned into real action.

“Day in, day out we see the devastating impact the housing emergency is having on children across the country. They are being uprooted from friends, living in cold, cramped B&Bs and going to bed at night scared by the sound of strangers outside.”

Speaking to Politics Home, Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey said rising homelessness is “a direct result of decisions made by the Tories: slashing investment in new low-cost homes, refusing to help private renters and making huge cuts to housing benefit and homelessness services”.

He vowed that Labour would “end rough sleeping within five years and fix the root causes of rising homelessness with the biggest council and social housing programme since the 1960s, stronger rights for renters and extra funding for homelessness services”.

In response to the report, a government spokesperson said: “Every child should have somewhere safe to live,” claiming ministers are helping local councils “by giving £1.2bn to tackle all types of homelessness”.

Last December, the charity Crisis found more than 24,000 people in the UK would spend the festive period sleeping rough or in makeshift accommodation.

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