This Christmas there will be 2,588 homeless children in Wandsworth, an increase of almost 400 on last Christmas, according to figures released by Wandsworth Council.
According to Paul White, Labour’s Housing Speaker: “Many of these children will wake up on Christmas morning in B&Bs, often outside the borough, or in poor-quality temporary accommodation. Families can be moved several times before a home is found for them, which of course impacts their mental health, their ability to work and their children’s ability to attend school. It’s hard at the best of times but heart-breaking at Christmas”.
Cllr Paul White
Currently, there are over 6,500 people waiting to be housed by Wandsworth Council.
Paul White said: “Eviction is the most common cause of homelessness. This is something Wandsworth Labour would tackle if we’re elected next May. We would intervene earlier to stop evictions, negotiate with landlords, provide resources for tenants to remain in their homes and we would end the practice of placing children in B&Bs.”
As well as homelessness, foodbank use in the borough is also increasing. Wandsworth Foodbank described it as “sad beyond words” that on December 15 more households visited their Battersea St Mark’s foodbank than on any other day since it opened in 2013. In one day emergency food and support was provided for 26 households in crisis; a total of 70 local people including 37 children. Another foodbank in the borough has reported that it has started to provide basic hygiene items such as sanitary products for women.
Earlier this month universal credit was rolled out in some areas of Wandsworth.
According to a recent report by New Policy Institute, changes to the benefits system, including the introduction of universal credit: “certainly partly explain why deep poverty has risen and unless the role out of Universal Credit is stopped or changes are made, the proportion of people in deep poverty in London will continue to rise”.
Paul White concluded: “increased homelessness and increased foodbank use; Wandsworth now has more homeless families with children in temporary accommodation than the whole of the Republic of Ireland and with the introduction of universal credit earlier this month, I am sorry to say the situation is bound to worsen. The public does not believe that Wandsworth Council has a grip on our local housing crisis and when you see the statistics, it’s clear why”.
Housing stats for Wandsworth and London:
- In 2010 there were 400 homeless families in Wandsworth. In November 2017, this had risen to 1,735
- Wandsworth Tories sold off 14,791 council homes in the past 25 years. Only 5,170 affordable homes (only 1,000 social homes built in last 16 years) were built to replace them.
- 80% of housing built in Wandsworth is only affordable to 8% of local people.
- Across London, evictions of renters on the most common contracts have increased from 1,000 in 2010 to 7,000 in 2017.
- People in poverty in London increasingly live in the private rented sector (PRS)– 43% currently live in the PRS, compared with 31.5% six years ago. In the last decade there has been a corresponding increase in the number of children in poverty living in the private rented sector, with this number roughly tripling.
- The New Policy Institute’s report on Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion is available here: http://www.npi.org.uk/publications/income-and-poverty/monitoring-poverty-and-social-exclusion-mpse-2016/