Wigan children forced into temporary accommodation

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Children “pay the price for inability to build enough social housing”

Last winter, the government asked people to stay at home in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19, but at least 40 families with children did not have a permanent place to live when the lockdown began. in spring.

Experts are now calling for more social housing to be built to prevent young people from spending their first years in “extremely precarious” and poor quality housing.

Data from the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government shows that there were 76 children among families in Wigan who were staying in temporary accommodation on March 31.

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The figures include three families with children staying in hostels or shelters and 16 in guesthouses.

Local authorities should only place families in bed and breakfasts as a last resort and only for a maximum of six weeks, but six households in Wigan had been living in bed and breakfasts for longer.

A spokeswoman for the MHCLG said the number of children in temporary accommodation fell 6.5% between March 2020 and March this year, with the government “determined to reduce it further.”

But striking figures show that four in 1,000 households in England were in temporary accommodation in March (one in 1,000 in Wigan) and nearly 120,000 children did not have a permanent home.

Darren Rodwell of the Local Government Association, which represents the councils, called the numbers tragic, adding: “Having a safe, secure and permanent home is the foundation of any child having the best start in life.

“It is a sad reflection of the lack of housing in this country and demonstrates the urgent need to build more social housing.

“It won’t happen overnight, but it is essential that councils, working with government, have the power to rebuild homes on a scale that dramatically reduces homelessness, as we seek to rebuild the city. nation after the pandemic. “

Polly Neate, chief executive of the housing charity Shelter, said thousands of children were paying the price for failing to build enough social housing in the UK.

She said: “Homeless children spend their first vital years trapped in extremely precarious and often poor quality temporary housing.

“We know, through our own services and research, that living in one room in a homeless B&B or hostel, with precious space to sleep, eat or play, can seriously affect well-being and to the development of a child. “

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