Saturday, January 18, 2020

‘Shocking’ rise in child homelessness ‘should shame the government’, say Labour

Rising homelessness "a direct result" of government cuts to welfare benefits and council funding, say Labour.

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Labour has blasted “eight years of failure on housing under the Tories”, as official figures reveal there are more than 123,000 children in England without a home.

The latest official statistics show 123,130 children were housed in temporary accommodation with their families during the first quarter of 2018.

Rough sleeping has also increased for the seventh year in a row, to reach 4,751 people, with those in London accounting for nearly a quarter of all rough sleepers in England.

There has also been a 40% rise in the number of homeless adults aged 60 or over, reaching a shocking 2,520 in the first three months of this year.

Shadow Housing Secretary, John Healey MP, said the “shocking rise” in homelessness over the last eight years is “a direct result” of government decisions, such as cuts to housing benefit and homelessness services.

Photo credit: Pixel whippersnapper edwewwewqew via photopin (license)

John Healey said: “The shocking rise in homelessness since 2010 should shame Conservative Ministers.

“Homelessness fell at an unprecedented rate under Labour, but after eight years of failure on housing under the Tories, 123,000 children are now without a home.

“This is a direct result of Conservative decisions: a steep drop in investment for affordable homes, cuts to housing benefit, reduced funding for homelessness services, and a refusal to help private renters.

“The next Labour government will end rough sleeping within a Parliament and tackle the root causes of rising homelessness with more affordable homes and stronger rights for renters.”

Polly Neate, CEO of Shelter, said: ‘It’s clear that our country is in the firm grip of a housing crisis, with everyone from young children and their families through to older people bearing the brunt.

‘An unforgiving combination of expensive rents and welfare cuts is forcing families out of homes and into temporary accommodation and ruining retirement for older people.

‘If we want to protect more people from the ravages of homelessness, the government must come up with a bold new plan for social housing and in the short term, ensure housing benefit covers the actual cost of rents.”

The number of households in England living in temporary accommodation has increased by 56% since the Tories entered government with the Liberal Democrats in 2010, reaching 79,800 in the first quarter of 2018.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of the homeless charity Crisis, said: “While we welcome steps the government has taken around preventing homelessness, today’s figures are a stark reminder that there are still far too many people who are homeless and stuck in temporary accommodation or being placed in sub-standard and sometimes dangerous B&Bs.”

He added: “Every day we see first-hand the effects of long stays in these types of accommodation; people can become isolated, with little access to vital support services, in poor conditions with nowhere to wash clothes or cook.

“We’re calling on the government to take swift action to tackle the problem and fix it once and for all.”

Homelessness minister Nigel Adams said: “Everyone deserves a safe and secure place to live.

“We’re investing £1.2bn to support those who are homeless and have brought in the most ambitious legislation in decades to help prevent people at risk of homelessness.

“There are encouraging signs that this concerted action is beginning to make a difference – homelessness acceptances are down 6% on the same quarter last year and fewer vulnerable people, including children, are in B&Bs.”

However, he admitted “it’s clear we have more to do.”

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