More than 86,000 London children from homeless families will spend Christmas in temporary accommodation arranged by their local borough, London Councils has highlighted.
Boroughs in the capital are concerned the situation could get even worse in the coming year due to the on-going economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the capital’s high housing costs, and the chronic shortage of affordable homes.
London Councils says tackling family homelessness must be a top priority for 2022.
Analysis by the cross-party group reveals:
- 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 (according to the latest government figures).
- London has more than double the number of children in temporary accommodation than the rest of England’s local authorities combined (37,840 compared to the London figure of 86,450).
- 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 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 ten 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 £1 billion on homelessness each year. Over 80% of this spending is on temporary accommodation, which is increasingly expensive in the capital.
The group, which represents all 32 boroughs and the City of London Corporation, wants more priority given to tackling family homelessness. While boroughs share the government’s ambitions on reducing homelessness, it points to several policy changes needed at a national level to help make this happen.
Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, said:
“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 calling for:
- 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 supporting residents in financial crisis; and increasing Discretionary Housing Payment funding.
- A strengthening of local authorities’ ability to invest in council housebuilding. London Councils wants to see an end to all Treasury restrictions on how boroughs’ use the money raised from Right to Buy sales, so that instead of going to the Treasury every penny raised from council house sales can be reinvested in local housebuilding. The government should also confirm social rent levels for at least the next ten years to aid boroughs’ financial planning.
- Increased grant funding through the Affordable Housing Programme to cover a greater proportion of scheme costs and support an increase of new housing supply.