Homeless children ‘miss school’


Of 400 families surveyed by the charity, 66% said their children had problems at school. The report, Living in Limbo, also said that taxpayers contribute more than 500 million to fund emergency housing. A majority of the families questioned said their health had suffered from living in temporary accommodation. Most of them described their children as “often unhappy or depressed”. Over three-quarters of the families (77%) had no family member working.

‘Trapped’ families

The reasons for this included health or mobility problems, the insecurity of their accommodation, high rents and worries about changes to benefits. Shelter urged the government to make investment in affordable housing a top priority to address the “life-long damage caused by the lack of decent, affordable housing”.

” For the tens of thousands of children who are shoved from pillar to post because of the shortage of affordable homes, the term `temporary accommodation’ is a terrible parody,” said director Adam Sampson.

Taxpayers’ bill

“There is nothing temporary about the damage done to their education and mental and physical health or the cost to the taxpayer who is left to pick up the bill.”

The report estimated that the 500 million-plus bill caused by temporary housing included 300 million on higher rents and additional housing benefit costs; 120 million on additional take up of benefits including income support and incapacity benefit; 50 million on out-of-school provision for children; and 10 million on additional visits to the GP due to health problems. The report said more than half of respondents said they had waited for temporary accommodation for an offer of permanent housing for more than a year.

The problems reported by homeless households were not confined to those living in bed and breakfast or hostel accommodation, Shelter said.

Government target met

People living in flats and houses had similar rates of ill health, economic inactivity and other problems. A month ago, the government said it had met its target for cutting the number of homeless families living in long-term bed and breakfast accommodation. The number of such families living in B&Bs for longer than six weeks had fallen 99.3% in the past two years. And in London, no homeless families now have to live in B&Bs for longer than six weeks, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said in early May.

In 2002, nearly 4,000 UK families lived long-term in B&B accommodation.

Source: BBC News