December 20, 2017 / 2:58 PM / 10 months ago

'Crisis' in England as 120,000 homeless children struggle with school

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - More than 120,000 homeless children in England live in emergency accommodation, such as hostels, and they miss far more schooling than their peers, a parliamentary committee said on Wednesday, describing homelessness as a “national crisis”.

More than 9,000 people sleep on England’s streets - a figure that has doubled since 2011 - and some 78,000 families are homeless, the Public Accounts Committee said, criticizing the government’s response as “unacceptably complacent”.

“As we approach Christmas there are thousands of children in temporary accommodation — a salutary reminder of the human cost of policy failure,” opposition politician Meg Hillier, who chairs the cross-party committee, said in a statement.

The government said it was investing more than 1 billion pounds ($1.34 billion) by 2020 and implementing the “most ambitious legislative reform in decades” to address the issue.

“Tackling homelessness is a complex issue with no single solution, but we are determined to help the most vulnerable in society,” a government spokesman said in a statement.

The committee’s report urged the government to do more to address the shortage of affordable homes underlying the crisis.

Private sector rents in England have risen three times faster than wages since 2010, according to a public spending watchdog

“A chronic lack of genuinely affordable homes combined with soaring rents and cuts to welfare mean more and more people are becoming homeless,” Polly Neate, who heads the homelessness charity Shelter, said in a statement.

“The government must now take heed of this important report and tackle the causes of the crisis by building many more homes which are genuinely affordable for ordinary people to rent.”

Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org

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