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08/04/2013 - Every fifteen minutes another cold and hungry family find themselves homeless

Recently released Government figures show a sharp increase in the number of homeless families over the past year. In 2012, 34,080 households with children were accepted as homeless, an increase of 12% on the previous year. At the end of 2012, 76,790 children were living in temporary accommodation, an annual increase of 11%. Currently every fifteen minutes another family find themselves homeless.

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The crippling cost of housing, combined with rising prices, flat lining wages and cuts to housing support, is meaning many families are simply no longer able to hold on to the roof over their heads, Britons are feeling the squeeze because of the recession and benefit reductions and further cuts to the housing safety net come into effect next week.

 

The figures also show an increase in the number of families living in Bed & Breakfast, up 29% since the same time last year as house building figures show an 11% decrease in the number of new homes started in the last year, to 98,280. Apart from the height of the recession in 2009, this is the only time starts have dropped below 100,000 since records began more than 30 years ago.

 

Food, Heat or Rent

 

More than five million families in England face the choice of putting food on the table or keeping a roof over their heads. Four in every 10 families have had to cut down on food spending because they were struggling to pay their mortgage or rent, according to a YouGov poll of 4,000 families.

 

Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb said that the charity's "startling" figures uncovered "the daily heartache millions of parents" forced to make a cruel decision between buying food and paying rent.

 

Disabled mum Teri from Essex said: "I struggle to pay the rent and once I find the money for that there is little left each week to feed, clothe and provide basic essentials for me or my daughter.

 

"I try and plan meals that will make food go further and go online to see who has the cheapest prices."

 

Mr Robb warned Con-Dem government benefit changes, including the bedroom tax, could be the "final blow" which will see many more families forced onto the streets.

 

As well as going hungry, it's likely many children are living in cold homes after the survey showed more than a quarter of families have had to reduce their energy use.

 

James Granger of the Fuel Poverty Action Group said: "Families are being forced to make impossible choices between housing, heating and eating as a result of sky-rocketing energy bills".

 

The Government promised to get Britain building, yet figures show house building has hit record lows.

 

Ultimately, it’s ordinary Britons who pay the price, with families struggling to meet ever-rising rents and young couples unable to get on the housing ladder no matter what they do.

 

The slump in our construction industry is one of the main reasons we’re facing the threat of a triple-dip recession. We can build our way of out of this, but the Government has to unlock the finance to deliver more genuinely affordable family homes.

 

Unless action is taken now, it’s hard to see our housing crisis improving any time soon.

 

By Ian Bell