Record number of 145,800 children's lives blighted by homelessness: housing must be a priority in the general election

Record number of 145,800 children's lives blighted by homelessness: housing must be a priority in the general election

We’ve reached yet another appalling milestone in the housing emergency. As thousands of children in England start their exams, government data published yesterday shows that a record-breaking 145,800 children are homeless in temporary accommodation with their families. This is a 15% increase in just one year.

The figures for England show:

  • a total of 112,660 households were homeless and living in temporary accommodation at the end of 2023 – another record-high figure and up 12% in a year
  • a record 145,800 children were homeless and living in temporary accommodation with their families – an increase of 19,460 in a year

These figures are not just high, they’re unprecedented. There have never been this many households stuck in temporary accommodation before. Temporary accommodation was never intended to exist outside of emergencies.

Being homeless in temporary accommodation impacts all areas of people’s lives. Almost half of families with school-aged children living in temporary accommodation say they have had to move their child into a different school. And 52% reported that their child had missed days of school. This is because a significant proportion (30%) of temporary accommodation is out of the home area and people are often moved at short notice, causing huge disruption to families.

As the statistics also show, this devastating situation is a direct result of decades of government failure to build social homes or fix the private rental market:

  • the loss of a private tenancy remains the leading cause of homelessness in England
  • in the last year alone, 25,910 households were put at risk of homelessness after receiving a section 21 no-fault eviction

Coming just days after the government watered down the Renters Reform Bill, this figure shows why it’s so important that they deliver meaningful change for renters. If the government doesn’t make improvements to the bill, thousands of renters will continue to face insecurity and the threat of homelessness.

One of the tens of thousands of people affected by this lack of government action is Liv*. She has shared her story with us.

‘Me, my children and my husband were evicted from our home by section 21 [no-fault eviction notice] last year and [having applied to the council for homelessness assistance] were moved to a shared emergency accommodation outside the borough we lived in.

The hostel has multiple bedrooms with a shared kitchen and bathrooms. There’s no living room, no table to eat at, no desks for the children to study and no Wi-Fi for them to do their homework. I’ve been anxious about living with strangers and sharing the kitchen and bathroom with families we don’t know.

The loud noises from other residents have made my children’s lives a nightmare and it has affected them in so many different ways, especially as their school is so far away now.

We’ve been in this situation for months and I’ve sent complaints to the council but have had no response. I just wish we had a home where we could close the door and feel safe rather than living in a place where we’re having mental health issues.’

* Liv is not her real name, a pseudonym is used for anonymity

With a general election on the horizon, we’re calling for all political parties to commit to ending the housing emergency by fixing private renting and building 90,000 social homes a year, with rents tied to local incomes.

What can you do?

These appalling statistics make it clear that all political parties must pledge to urgently tackle the deepening housing emergency in the coming general election. We can’t afford for more families to become homeless because of no-fault evictions and eye-watering private rents. It’s costly to their health, their children’s education and the wider economy.

We must urgently invest in a new generation of social rent homes – 90,000 a year for ten years – where rents are tied to local incomes. And we must use this once-in-a-lifetime chance to fix renting with a robust Renters Reform Bill. A strong bill is needed to end precarious fixed-term tenancies, heart-breaking no-fault evictions and huge annual rent hikes.

It’s crucial that all political parties understand the urgency of the situation and adopt all the policies required to end homelessness for good. Our general election manifesto outlines what this must look like.

Support the campaign. Tell party leaders that our votes will only be won with a promise to rebuild our broken housing system. Add your name to our open letter today.

Donate. Until housing justice becomes a reality, our services advise and support people like Liv every day. Please donate today so we can keep campaigning for change, while standing with those at the sharp end of the housing emergency.

Thanks to the kindness and solidarity of supporters like you, we will end the housing emergency together.