Socialist Worker

Revealed - shocking state of child homelessness in Britain

by Gabby Thorpe
Issue No. 2684

Will says living in a B&B is ‘worse than a horror film’

Will says living in a B&B is ‘worse than a horror film’ (Pic: Shelter)


At least 135,000 children will be homeless by Christmas—the highest in 12 years, according to a report by housing charity Shelter.

Shelter’s Generation Homeless report estimated that 183 children lose their homes per day. That’s one every eight minutes.

And it means that around 2,379 children will become homeless between the general election on 12 December and Christmas Day.

Tory chancellor Sajid Javid claimed that homelessness has fallen 50 percent since the Tories came into office.

Yet the number of children living in temporary accommodation has risen by 80 percent since 2010.

And the number of homeless children in London has risen by 33 percent since 2014.

Child ­homelessness has risen 28 percent in Wales since 2015. And in Scotland there has been a rise of 64 percent.

The report says homeless families are forced to stay in cramped conditions—most of the time sharing one room in a B&B. Accommodation is often far away from school, family and friends.

Horror

Will, a ten year old interviewed for Shelter’s report, said, “Life in the B&B is horrible, it’s worse than being in a real life horror film. You can’t do much, you can’t play much. I don’t get to play that often.

“We moved here in September, and they said we were going to stay for six weeks. Then they told us we were going to stay for two more, then they told us it will be another week, then another one.”

Some children are stuck in temporary accommodation for a year or more. And the only alternative that councils offer is the suggestion that families rent privately. Shelter chief executive Polly Neate said the figures revealed by the report were “scandalous” 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,” she said.

“They are living in cold, cramped B&Bs and going to bed at night scared by the sound of strangers outside.”

The report highlighted factors such as cuts to housing and welfare for the surge in numbers.

The extortionate costs of private rents and endless waiting lists for social housing mean that the numbers are set to climb even higher. It comes at the same time as a Channel 4 Dispatches programme showed the reality of children growing up in poverty.

The number of families living below the poverty line is set to rise to five million by 2020.

Labour’s shadow housing minister John Healey responded to the report saying, “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.”

The way to end child ­homelessness is to stop to cruel benefit cuts and launch a mass council house building programme, making housing ­available to everyone.


Schools ‘crumbling’

Nearly one in five school buildings in England require urgent repairs, leading to warnings that they are “crumbling around teachers and pupils”.

Almost 4,000 schools across the country have been judged by surveyors to be in need of immediate restoration work.

Many more were found not to have the paperwork required by law, including electrical test certificates, fire risk assessments or asbestos management plans.

Some 17 percent were found to have buildings with “elements”, such as a roof, wall or window deemed in need of immediate replacement or repair.

The figures are revealed in data gathered through a government programme to assess the condition of England’s schools estate.


Police examine test body

Police have launched a fraud probe into Scotland’s national examination body after allegations of “financial irregularities” involving a six-figure sum.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) confirmed officers were investigating one claim of misconduct involving funds in their latest accounts. Two other similar allegations are being dealt with internally.

It comes a few months after senior executives were criticised for spending more than £17,000 of taxpayer money on a lavish trip to Saudi Arabia.


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