The number of children who are living in temporary accommodation is at its highest level since records began twenty years ago.
In March this year more than 13,000 youngsters were in this situation, according to the news agency PA. It found the number of households with children in bed and breakfast accommodation in England was more than double the figure at the equivalent point in 2022 - up from 1,700 to 3,930.
Under legislation that came into force in 2004, the use of B&Bs for families is prohibited except in an emergency, and even then it should not be used for longer than six weeks.
But PA analysis shows the number of households with children who have been in B&Bs for more than this length of time nearly trebled from 670 as of March 31 2022 to 1,840 by March 31 this year.
Ian Spurgeon who is CEO of the Christian children’s charity Spurgeons has been speaking to Premier about the findings :
“Poverty is a key driver but there are also other factors. Some families will be fleeing from domestic violence, some will be families that have made their home in the UK over the last few years. What they will have in common is that they are very, very vulnerable families. It’s hard to over-emphasise the effects of this on children who are living with this kind of insecurity.
“These figures are shocking but for those 131,000 families, there are children and there's a lot more trauma. Also they are the tip of the iceberg, you can bet your bottom dollar that there are another 90 per cent below the water that are suffering the same sort of impacts, but are managing to just skirt above the desperation of having to find emergency accommodation.”
The use of B&B accommodation for families is prohibited except in an emergency, and even then it should not be used for longer than six weeks.
But the number of households with children who have been in B&Bs for more than this length of time nearly trebled from 670 as of March 31 2022 to 1,840 by March 31 this year:
Spurgeons carries out complex counselling for about 500 children every week, seeing about 30,000 children every year. The charity also holds intensive workloads for about 9000 families. Ian Soars says most of the children have very ‘poor attachment’:
“That’s the ability for a child to say ‘I'm okay’. They need stability, they need consistency, they need predictability. And of course, all of that is swept away if they don’t have a permanent home. This begins to feed into all the other aspects of a child's life, their capacity to learn at school, their capacity to feel secure, their self image, their self confidence, their lack of resilience, their relationships with their siblings, their peers, their friends, and also, of course, their parents.
“So this isn't just that it’s a different bed for the night, it has knock on effects that are desperately traumatic for those children.
“What we’re trying to do is equip them, strengthen them, to be able to withstand the blows of the day. In many ways it’s an indictment on our culture, our society and our nation that happiness is something that is hard to reach now for many children and these 130,000 children are in that category. Bless them and their parents who will be giving everything they can to try and make it work for those kids.”
The analysis shows that households with children account for 30 per cent of all households in temporary accommodation in north-east England. That figure soars to 76 per cent in the West Midlands - the highest for any region.
Dr Svirydzenka is a co-investigator on the Champions project - a collaboration between University College London and De Montfort University looking at the impact of temporary accommodation on the health and wellbeing of children under five in England.
She said there is a "discourse of neglect" around the issue that must be pushed back on, with some people thinking "these families need to try harder and do better".
She told PA: "I think we really need to challenge that. This isn't parental neglect. From our evidence what we see is that families are doing the best they can in the circumstances. No family wants to be in temporary accommodation or living in the environment they are in."