More than 100,000 vulnerable children in Britain will wake up homeless on Christmas Day, a leading charity has revealed.
The report by homelessness charity Shelter found the number of children who will be homeless on Christmas morning has risen by more than 15,000 on last year. This is equivalent to four youngsters in every UK school.
It also found the number of children living in temporary accommodation is at the highest level since 2008, and is predicted to hit 105,251 by the end of 2015.
Since 2010, the year Prime Minister David Cameron first took office, the number of families living in bed and breakfast accommodation has more than trebled to almost 2,700, the report found.
Shelter said it is local authorities’ duty to find homeless children and their families somewhere secure to live, especially on Christmas Day.
However, it said councils are under so much pressure from the affordable housing shortage, they are forced to move more families into cramped hostels.
As part of its research, Shelter interviewed 20 families living in temporary accommodation.
It heard shocking reports of children seeing their parents being physically attacked. Other families said the size of their hostel rooms left them with no choice but to eat meals on the floor.
Many of the families interviewed said their children’s emotional well-being had been badly affected.
“There’s nothing more heart-breaking than hearing the voice of a parent who’s desperately trying to keep a roof over their children’s heads,” a Shelter spokesperson said in a statement.
“But the sad fact is, almost every day, we hear from families who’ve fallen on hard times and found themselves living in a single cramped room of a B&B or hostel, unable to give their children the environment they need to grow and thrive in.
“Worrying about your child’s safety every day, eating dinners on the floor, and sharing beds — this is no way for a family to live.”
“We urgently need the public’s support to make sure we can be there for more families this Christmas.”
‘Temporary accommodation still houses families’
The Department for Communities and Local Government said temporary accommodation still “ensures no family is without a roof over their head.”
“We have made over £1 billion available since 2010 to prevent and tackle homelessness and support vulnerable households, and statutory homelessness acceptances are now less than half the 2003-04 peak,” its spokesperson said.
“Our investment has helped prevent almost a million households from becoming homeless.
“Of course we recognize the need to build more homes — which is why over the next five years are committed to deliver 275,000 extra affordable homes — the fastest rate of delivery for 20 years.”
To help solve this crisis, Shelter has launched an emergency Christmas appeal, calling on the public to donate £30 to support families facing eviction.
Speaking to the Mirror, young mother Clare said her son developed a nervous tic after she was forced to move into a single hostel room with her four children.
“He was constantly nervous. He was never like this before,” she told the paper.
According to data released in September, the gap between income and housing prices in Britain has rocketed to such heights in the last 20 years that home buyers in the most affordable regions are forced to spend six times their income.