William Eichler 24 December 2021

Over 86,000 London children in temporary accommodation over Christmas

Over 86,000 London children in temporary accommodation over Christmas image

More than 86,000 children from homeless families in the capital will spend Christmas in temporary accommodation arranged by their local borough, London council leaders have revealed.

The cross-party group London Councils has said that tackling family homelessness must be a top priority for 2022.

According to the latest Government figures, the number of children living in temporary accommodation in the capital has increased by almost 60% since 2011. In 2011/12 there were 54,540 London children in temporary accommodation compared to 86,450 today.

London has more than double the number of children in temporary accommodation (86,450) than the rest of England’s local authorities combined (37,840), the Government’s figures reveal.

Families placed in temporary accommodation in London are much more likely to have dependent children. Almost 70% of London’s homeless households in temporary accommodation have at least one child (42,290 households), compared to 50% in the rest of England.

The number of homeless London households living in temporary accommodation is also at near-record levels. The latest data shows 60,830 London households living in temporary accommodation arranged by their local authority – only slightly lower than the peak in the mid-2000s.

London Councils estimates 165,000 homeless Londoners live in temporary accommodation. This is more than the entire population of cities such as Norwich (143,000), Lancaster (146,000), or Oxford (152,400).

London faces the most severe homelessness pressures in the country, accounting for two-thirds of England’s total temporary accommodation numbers (96,600 households). Londoners are 10 times more likely to be living in temporary accommodation than residents of anywhere else in England.

London Councils estimates boroughs spend a total of just under £1bn on homelessness each year. Over 80% of this spending is on temporary accommodation.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ executive member for Housing & Planning, commented: ‘These are painful figures. Every child deserves a permanent home, but over 86,000 London children are set to spend Christmas in temporary accommodation.

‘We’re hugely concerned by the high numbers of homeless families in the capital. This type of homelessness isn’t so visible, so many people aren’t aware how bad things have become. The continuing economic impact of Covid-19 and the shortage of affordable homes could make the situation even worse.

‘Boroughs do all we can to support homeless families but we need ministers to make this a top priority for 2022. We’re urging the government to do more to ensure the welfare system helps families meet their housing costs and prevents them becoming homeless, as well as increasing investment in building affordable homes.’

London Councils is urging the Government to make improvements to the welfare system’s ability to help low-income Londoners meet their housing costs. These include ending the five-week wait for Universal Credit payments to begin; restoring Government funding for councils’ local welfare assistance schemes; and increasing Discretionary Housing Payment funding.

They also called for a strengthening of local authorities’ ability to invest in council housebuilding and increased grant funding through the Affordable Housing Programme.

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