More that 2100 homeless families in England were living in emergency bed and breakfast accommodation at the end of September, according to new Government figures – the highest number for a decade.
The new statistics mean that nearly 85,000 children in Britain face homelessness this Christmas morning.
Shelter has warned that, as rising living costs and cuts to the housing safety net take their toll, more parents will face an ongoing struggle to keep a roof over their children’s heads.
The total number of families living in temporary accommodation at the end of September also rose by 5% compared to the same time last year.
A recent Shelter investigation highlighted the desperate conditions faced by families in bed and breakfasts. Almost half of the families interviewed reported children witnessing very disturbing incidents, including open drug use and threats of violence. Over half had to share a bathroom or toilet with strangers, and most felt unsafe in their accommodation.
With homelessness rising, Shelter is bracing for an increase in demand for its advice services this Christmas – particularly given the 15% rise in the number of calls received during December last year.
The charity has launched an emergency fundraising appeal to support its over-stretched advice services this Christmas.
Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said that the news was even worse than expected: “It is an absolute disgrace that nearly 85,000 children in Britain face waking up homeless this Christmas morning.
“We’ll be there to help make sure families get the support they need to get back on their feet, but we need to see the Government rebuild our shredded safety net so it’s there to catch families who fall on hard times.
“Shelter’s advisers work 365 days a year answering calls for help from families facing homelessness. But, with the number of people needing our services rising each day, we’ll be stretched to the limit this Christmas. We urgently need more support so that we can be there for these families.”
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