Fix this, minister.
A report published today will land with a double thud on Gavin Barwell’s ministerial desk in his new office at the Department for Communities and Local Government.
And London has nearly 90,000 children living in temporary accommodation, according to Barwell’s own department. That is 26,700 more children in temporary accommodation in the capital than there were in 2010, when Barwell’s Tories first took charge of the Government, with a Conservative as Mayor of London.
DCLG figures show there are 51,940 households in London in temporary accommodation; 83 per cent of those households are families with children under 18. In total, 87,010 children in the capital are in temporary accommodation.
“When you have insecure tenancies, huge cuts to council budgets and caps on housing benefit happening all at once, you form a brutal concoction which leaves thousands of families without a permanent home,” Tom Copley, Labour’s housing spokesman on the London Assembly, said this morning.
Rising numbers in temporary accommodation also create a range of social issues and a growing strain on the depleted budgets of local authorities, including Croydon Council.
Meanwhile, speaking in his first departmental question time in the House of Commons yesterday, Barwell suggested that his priority was for more people to own their own homes. Some might suggest that that misses the bigger issue somewhat.
Today, Copley criticised the role of Right to Buy in depleting London’s social housing stock and forcing families to turn to insecure private tenancies. More than 20,000 social homes have been lost in London since 2010. Last year, Right to Buy sales accounted for 88 per cent of the total number of social homes lost in the capital.
Some 41 per cent of families entering temporary accommodation in London in 2016 cited the loss of tenancy as their primary reason for homelessness, compared to 10 per cent in 2010.
“By reanimating the corpse of Right to Buy the Government have taken chunks out of London’s social housing stock,” Copley said. “The decimation of London’s social housing has pushed many families into private tenancies with exorbitant rents that they just can’t manage. The extension of Right to Buy to housing association properties will exacerbate this appalling situation further still.
“Temporary accommodation forms a vital lifeline, but it should only ever be a short-term fix. Work must start now to open up new funding streams for councils to build social housing and ensure Right to Buy income is reinvested in building new homes.”
This latter measure, of course, was specifically forbidden when Right to Buy was first introduced under Thatcher. The measure was never reversed during the 13 years of Blairite Government at the start of this century.
Over to you, minister.
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