More than 400 children homeless in Black Country and Staffordshire

More than 400 children were homeless and in temporary accommodation in the Black Country and Staffordshire at the start of the coronavirus lockdown, figures show.

Housing charity Shelter said it is “unbearable” that tens of thousands of children across England had no permanent home when the pandemic took hold – after the national total hit a 14-year high.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures show 167 children from 64 households were housed in temporary accommodation in Sandwell at the end of March.

Elsewhere in the Black Country, there were 143 children from 56 households in Walsall; 96 children from 41 households; and 13 children from eight households in Dudley, at the end of March.

And in Staffordshire, there were eight children from five households; and three children from one household in Cannock Chase.

There were no homeless children in South Staffordshire at the end of March.

Across England, there were 129,380 children in temporary accommodation on March 31 – the highest number since 2006.

Temporary accommodation may include bed and breakfasts, hostels or other nightly housing.

Shelter describes B&Bs as “some of the worst places for families with children to live”, as they often involve entire households living in one small room without cooking facilities.

Shelter said the pandemic has compounded a pre-existing housing crisis caused by sky-high private rents, housing benefit cuts and a chronic shortage of affordable social homes.

Chief executive Polly Neate said: “It’s unbearable to think that tens of thousands of children were already homeless when the pandemic first took hold.

Crisis

“What kind of futures will they have when they are spending formative time squashed into temporary homeless accommodation during a national lockdown?

“Life in temporary accommodation is hugely destabilising for children and can disrupt their development.”

She urged the Government to invest in social homes for local communities to save a generation from homelessness.

Thangam Debbonaire, an MP and the party’s shadow housing secretary, said: “Before Covid, we already had devastatingly high numbers in temporary accommodation as a direct result of 10 years of Conservative government, whose policies have pushed people into poverty.

“The Government have known for months that an evictions crisis is looming.

“Not for the first time, it has been too slow to take action and despite the extension to the ban we’re still facing a potential disaster as there is still no plan for what comes next.”

An MHCLG spokeswoman said: “

We are committed to supporting homeless families and we have put in place over half a billion pounds to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping over this financial year.”

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