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Wednesday, 05 December 2018

Shelter estimates more than 130,000 children will be homeless this Christmas

Written by Lizzie Roberts

The UK's housing crisis will be "felt across a generation" as the latest figures reveal the scale of children living in homelessness, a charity has warned.

Shelter urged the public to support its Christmas appeal which aims to provide families with "the vital helpline advice and services they need in order to keep their homes over the festive period".

A spokeswoman said: "The impact of the housing crisis will be felt across a generation as one in every 103 children in Britain is now homeless."

The charity estimates there will be 131,269 homeless children in the UK this Christmas, of whom 9,500 will spend their Christmas in a hostel or B&B.

Greg Beales (pictured), director of campaigns at Shelter, said: "The number of children hidden away in hostels and B&Bs is enough to make anyone's heart sink. These are not places for children.

"We hear about cold, damp - even rats. Young children are sharing beds with multiple family members, trying to play in dirty public corridors, and having to leave their block in the middle of the night to use the bathroom."

Local authorities in London ranked the highest for the number of homeless children, which have nearly doubled in the last five years, Shelter's analysis of the latest figures showed.

The borough of Westminster was listed as the worst-affected area in the UK, where one in 11 children are homeless, the charity said.

The figures for England and Scotland were calculated using the most recent official Government statistics on homelessness, from January to March, which showed 129,745 children in temporary accommodation.

The most recent figures for Wales were from April to June and totalled 1,524 children. The figure was calculated by multiplying the number of families in temporary accommodation, by the average number of children per family in Wales - Welsh authorities do not count the number of homeless children, unlike England and Scotland.

James Murray, deputy mayor for housing and residential development in London, said: "It is shameful that the Government has allowed homelessness to rise to these levels and it is heart-breaking that so many children are suffering the consequences."

He said the mayor was helping local authorities to build 10,000 council homes over the next four years, as well as supporting boroughs provide temporary accommodation.

"But the truth is that councils desperately need far more help from the Government to help homeless families now and to build the council housing Londoners need," Mr Murray added.

"Crucially, ministers must stop ignoring the root causes of rising homelessness and commit honestly to tackling them."

Heather Wheeler, the minister for homelessness, said: "No family should be left without a roof over their head, especially during the winter months, and we are working to ensure all children have a safe place to stay where they can thrive.

"Councils have a duty to provide temporary accommodation for families with nowhere to go, and we have been clear that they also have a duty to prevent homelessness in the first place.

"We're providing more than £1.2 billion to tackle all forms of homelessness, including amongst children, and introduced the Homelessness Reduction Act to ensure people at risk get help quicker.

"But we know we have more to do to tackle homelessness, and we will."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Sky News.