Record 139,000 children in temporary accommodation – up 7,400 in three months

Posted 30 Nov 2023

New government statutory homelessness figures, released today, show nearly 139,000 children are homeless in temporary accommodation- another record high figure and up 14% on last year.   

7,500 families with children are living in hostels and B&Bs – often found to be the worst type of temporary accommodation where entire families are cramped into one room, forced to share beds and deal with safety hazards like faulty electrics and mould. 

Today’s figures also reveal that over 73,600 households faced homelessness in England between April and June 2023 – up 3,000 on last year.  

In light of these shocking figures, Shelter is launching its urgent appeal for the public to support its essential work. The charity’s frontline services are being inundated with calls from people facing homelessness this Christmas. Shelter’s expert advisers give advice to millions of people through its emergency helpline, webchat, face-to-face teams and website, www.shelter.org.uk/get_help 

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Today we’ve hit yet another shameful record in the housing emergency, with nearly 139,000 children now facing spending Christmas without a safe and secure place to call home.  

“Decades of failure to build enough social homes combined with record-high private rents has resulted in more and more families being plunged into homelessness. For most this will mean months or even years in temporary accommodation, where their lives are stuffed into cardboard boxes and they can be forced to move at the drop of a hat.  

"To turn the tide on homelessness, the government must commit to building 90,000 genuinely affordable social homes a year. Until then, Shelter will be there to help people find or keep hold of a safe home. With more people being forced to seek our help this winter, we’re asking for the public to support our urgent appeal to help us keep up with rising demand.”  

Melanie, 52, lives in Poole with her 15-year-old twin son and daughter and her 17-year-old daughter and works full-time for the NHS. The family became homeless after being served a Section 21 no-fault eviction and have been placed in a one room Travelodge with no cooking facilities.  

Melanie said: “Many people will look at my situation and not realise this could easily happen to them. After the breakdown of my marriage, I went from being in a double income, privately renting, happy, well-off family with disposable income – to becoming a single parent with a single income. My life changed overnight and we have become homeless while I am working full time and my daughter is doing her A-levels and my other children are doing their GCSEs.  

“The hardest part of being homeless is the uncertainty. We are booked into the Travelodge one week at a time, and only find out on checkout day if we will stay here or be moved on. This means we cannot plan anything more than a week ahead as we can be moved anywhere, so we live with packed suitcases. We have no idea where we will be spending Christmas. My children need stability after an emotionally difficult year, and that’s impossible living here. My younger daughter paces the room to help her cope. My son has ADHD and my other daughter, who I currently share a bed with, has Cerebral Palsy. I just want a social home that I can afford on my pay so I can take care of myself and my family.”  

To donate to Shelter’s Winter Appeal and help to give people experiencing homelessness the urgent support and security they need this Christmas, visit shelter.org.uk/donate

ENDS  

Notes to editors:

Notes to the editor:  

  • 138,930 children were living in temporary accommodation in England at the end of June 2023. This is 7,430 more children than at the end of March 2023 when there were 131,500 children in temporary accommodation. This data is published by the Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities and is available at Statutory Homelessness Live Tables,  Number of households by type of temporary accommodation provided, Table TA1. 

  • 68,070 families with children were living in temporary accommodation in England at the end of June 2023, of which 7,510 were living in hostels or B&Bs. This data is published by the Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities and is available at Statutory Homelessness Live Tables,  Number of households by type of temporary accommodation provided, Table TA1. 

  • The number of households who faced homelessness in the last 3 months is the number of households who sought help from their local authority and were found to be eligible for assistance and owed a prevention, or a relief duty in the period from 1st April 2023 to 30th June 2023. This is 73,660 households. This is 4% higher than April to June 2022. This is available at Statutory Homelessness Live tables, Table A1 - Number of households by initial assessment of homelessness circumstances and needs 

  • A recent Shelter survey of over 1,000 people in temporary accommodation found that families are often housed in one-room and frequently face poor conditions, including safety hazards. The research is available here