Turning away the homeless

ANOTHER VIEW

Share
Related Topics
Today the House of Commons will be asked to give a second reading to the Government's Housing Bill, which will affect homeless families all over the country. Under the Bill, homeless families will no longer be given priority in the allocation of permanent homes.

In future, local councils may only be required to provide temporary accommodation for 12 months. More homeless families will be turned away by local councils and forced to take an insecure, expensive tenancy from a private landlord - the rent for which will come from the public purse.

Homelessness exacts a terrible cost in wasted money and damaged lives. Families are trapped in expensive and overcrowded bed and breakfast accommodation, when it would be far better - and cheaper - to build permanent homes.

The experience of homelessness reaches into every aspect of life. It is more difficult for homeless people to get a job. The stress of homelessness can lead to mental or physical ill- health. Many homeless people are not on the electoral register and do not even have a vote.

But one of the areas where homelessness takes its greatest toll is in the impact it has on children. More than 50,000 children are living in temporary accommodation because their families have become homeless. A report last year by researchers at the Institute of Education in London shows how their education suffers from this lack of stability.

Families living in temporary accommodation often face frequent moves - sometimes as many as two or three in the same year. Where a family is put in temporary accommodation some distance from its previous home, children face the choice of long journeys or changing to a new school, perhaps only for several months. Some will have trouble finding a new school place, so they end up spending time out of school altogether.

Conditions in temporary accommodation, especially bed and breakfast, make it difficult for children to work at home. As a result, they fall behind - and some never catch up .

Homeless pupils often require help in settling into school and may need more support from teachers. As a result, in schools with large numbers of children from homeless families the extra demands can adversely affect the progress of all pupils, not just those living in temporary accommodation.

The Bill's proposals will make all this worse. Homeless families will face the prospect of one temporary home after another. The cost to the Treasury of these temporary homes will be an extra pounds 118m in housing benefit in the first year alone.

All those who care about stable family life and the sensible use of public resources must reject these proposals.

The writer is director of Shelter

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Separate lives: Boston’s streets illustrate the divide between the town’s communities  

Migrants have far more to offer than hard work and wealth creation, yet too many exist in isolation from the rest of society

Emily Dugan
Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird has sold 40 million copies  

Go Set a Watchman: Harper Lee’s new novel is more than just a literary event

Joseph Charlton
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'