Coalition policy success: 80,000 children homeless for Christmas


Tory politicians don’t care and Liberal Democrats don’t have any power – that’s why 80,000 children are being housed in temporary accommodation, alongside drug users and enduring threats of violence, as reported by Shelter today.

The government’s own figures show 2,090 families living in bed and breakfasts – an increase of eight per cent on 2012 and the largest number in 10 years, according to The Guardian. Of these, 760 have been living in B&Bs longer than the legal six-week limit – a 10 per cent increase on last year.

More than 43,000 other homeless households with children are in other emergency accommodation – usually privately-rented short-term flats, which are expensive. This is an increase of nine per cent on last year.

To put this into context, a Labour government commitment to halve the number of families in this kind of emergency accommodation meant the total fell between 2005 and 2010 – but it has been rising again since June 2011.

This is a human disaster created by the Coalition government.

Most families interviewed by the charity said they felt unsafe, with one child directly threatened by a man after an argument over a shared bathroom. Almost half said their children had witnessed incidents such as sexual offences, drug use and dealing.

One mother of three said: “One of the reasons we left was one of the residents trying to sell us crack cocaine.”

Most of the 25 families Shelter interviewed lived in one room; half said the children were sharing beds with parents or siblings and the family was sharing kitchen facilities with others. All but three said it was hard to find a safe place for their children to play. Three families had no cooking facilities and one reported sharing a cooker and fridge with 22 other people.

More than half had to share a bathroom or toilet with strangers, with 10 families sharing with seven or more other people; two-thirds had no table to eat on, and schoolchildren were finding it hard to do homework.

And their health is suffering: “It’s so hard to give him a balanced diet as it’s impossible to make proper meals here, let alone a Christmas dinner. He’s getting really pale and is so tired all the time. He gets so scared but it’s difficult when I’m scared myself. This is no place for a child to live,” said a mother in a Hounslow B&B.

“This shouldn’t be happening in 21st century Britain,” said Shelter’s chief executive, Campbell Robb, who described the charity’s findings as “shocking” and the conditions forced on families as “shameful”.

He said: “No child should be homeless, let alone 80,000. But tragically, with more people struggling to make ends meet and homelessness on the rise, we’re bracing ourselves for an increase in demand from families who desperately need our help.”

Housing minister Kris Hopkins couldn’t care less. “We’ve given councils nearly £1bn to tackle homelessness and to support people affected by the welfare reforms,” he sniffed.

“I am very clear that they should be fully able to meet their legal responsibility to house families in suitable accommodation.”

Let us be very clear on this: the problem is not that Tories like Hopkins don’t understand. This is exactly the result that they wanted; they just won’t acknowledge it because it is electorally damaging.

Look at the policies that created this problem: The bedroom tax; the ‘Pickles Poll Tax’, otherwise known as the Council Tax reduction scheme; the benefit cap that so many people in this country seem to support without understanding any of its implications.

Vox Political reported back in January what they would mean: “There will be a rise in rent and mortgage arrears… affordable housing will be less available and landlords less able or willing to rent to tenants on benefits… Private sector rental may become less attractive to landlords if tenants aren’t paying the rent. This will lead to a growth in homelessness. Councils have statutory duties and may see an increasing burden.”

But increases to the Discretionary Housing Payment fund have been entirely insignificant compared with the extra burden councils have faced. They received £150 million between them; Durham County Council had £883,000 and spent it all within eight weeks.

We have seen the start of the social cleansing predicted by this blog back in August 2012, when we noted that at least one council would use these measures to “clear out the poor and set up shop as a desirable residence for the rich”.

The housing bubble created by George Osborne with his ‘Help To Buy’ scheme will accelerate this process.

So don’t let a Tory tell you it’s nothing to do with them. They wanted this. In fact, 80,000 homeless children at Christmas is probably not enough for them.

16 thoughts on “Coalition policy success: 80,000 children homeless for Christmas

  1. Mike Sivier

    There are copies of letters, going around the social media at the moment, in which authorities writing to people about to be evicted state that, if there are children in the household, then a referral has been made to Social Services because they are in danger of becoming homeless. The inference that has been made is that these children may be taken into care.
    Can anybody cast light on the relationship of these letters to the homelessness described by Shelter?

  2. Jeffrey Davies

    this is the tory way get rid of us plebbs and am very very sorry that the 99percent who sleep through their lies allow this to happen in our country but happen it does disgusting tory policys made worst by labour allowing it without much fight against it yes they try to kill all off jeff3

    1. Mike Sivier

      The note says that eviction of families with one or more children due to non-payment of rent is considered to be “intentional” homelessness, and that in this case the local authority must consider its duties under the Children Act 1989 – is this a “child in need”? It says that the Act requires authorities to promote the upbringing of a child within their family and social services may request that a local authority provide help in finding alternative accommodation, even though there is no statutory obligation to do so.

      1. thelovelywibblywobblyoldlady

        Yes CA 1989 golden rule is what is in the best interest of the child. I’m no expert Mike, but if the SS think that a child could be in danger from it’s surroundings, then they could remove that child from it’s parents within the provisions of the act. One to watch and be aware of I think.

  3. W.C. Fields Forever

    The whole idea of Pickles’ “Localism” is to maintain political control over the population, from the centre, with local government taking the blame for policies imposed on them by central government that they are compelled to implement and enforce under the law: central government controls absolutely the amount of money that local authorities have to spend and devolve responsibility for implementing cuts and horrendous policies like the Bedroom Tax, or charging benefit claimants and such like a portion of the Council Tax which they cannot afford, who then get blamed by the local populations they serve for suffering that central government itself is the prime mover, enabling central government to avoid a lot of the hostility and anger for the bloody awful things that occur that would otherwise be directed towards them.

    People should not be fooled by this.

    Someone ordering another to do wrong is as guilty, if not more guilty, than the wrongdoer. Responsibility for what is going on lies with the Coalition much more than Councils.

    1. Thomas M

      Why do the non-Tory councils put up with it? I’d hate it if I got blamed for others, and it can’t help the political careers of the councillors very much.

  4. Joe Smith

    Agree 100% Mike, getting the Tories to acknowledge a problem exist is near impossible, getting them to admit they caused it in the first place is akin to flying to the moon using your flatulence as propulsion. It’s going to be the hard way folks. Expose them in any way we can. In my opinion we have to start with Ian Duncan Smith. Why? Easy. He’s incoherent when challenged and on the spot, he’s vulnerable and disposable, Cameron would drop him like a hot turd at the first sign of trouble. He’s senior enough to create panic amongst the other a..e lickers, he’s got a well known very dubious history, enough people have been badly hurt by his policies to form an irresistible force, lots of people despise him, other MPs keep out of the way.
    Start collecting names Mike!

      1. Florence

        Like all cowards, he hides. No public debates, no TV, he obviously has set himself up to be “untouchable”. Only as far as turds are “untouchable”. I’d obviously need a pair of gloves for a face to face with him,

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