Half of all children in private rentals live in poverty, according to damning report

Posted On: 
8th February 2019

Labour has lashed the Government after it emerged the number of children living in poverty in privately rented homes has soared by more than half a million in ten years.

The National Housing Federation said said nearly half of all children in privately rented homes in England were living in poverty, despite 70% of their families being in work.
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The National Housing Federation said almost half of all kids in private rental homes now live in poverty, and 250,000 would immediately be lifted above the breadline if they were able to live in social housing.

But the analysis follows a separate report this week that showed the number of houses available for the lowest social rents in England has plummeted by tens of thousands in the past six years.

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Meanwhile, official spending watchdogs savaged the planning system in England and said reforms would be needed to hit government housebuilding targets. 

According to the NHF there are now some 1.3 million kids living in poverty in private rental homes, up by 70% from 2008.

The body - which represents social housing providers - said almost 250,000 children would be freed from poverty if they were living in social housing.

In a damning finding, it said said 46% of all children in privately rented homes in England were living in poverty, despite 70% of their families being in work.

Shadow Housing Minister Mel Onn said: “These figures are a damning indictment of the Conservative Government’s complete failure to provide the homes the country needs.

“A city the size of Coventry’s worth of social rented homes have been lost since 2012 and the result is more families and children in insecure, expensive and inappropriate private rented properties."

Kate Henderson, the chief executive of the NHF said: “The critical lack of social housing is pushing more and more families into poverty by forcing them into insecure privately rented homes they cannot afford.

“It's so obvious that we need to be building more social housing and the government has a duty to our children to invest in this.”

But a Government spokesperson said: “Providing quality and fair social housing is a priority for the Government and our Social Housing Green Paper seeks to ensure it can both support social mobility and be a stable base that supports people when they need it.

“Household incomes have never been higher and there are now one million fewer people living in absolute poverty since 2010, including 300,000 children. And with this Government’s changes there are fewer children in workless households than ever before, boosting their prospects in life.”

It comes after the Chartered Institute for Housing revealed that number of houses available for the lowest social rents in England has plummeted by more than 165,000 since 2012.

A Labour source told PoliticsHome the figures were "absolutely extraordinary – the number of social homes we’ve lost in the last six years alone is equivalent to an entire city the size of Coventry".

PLANNING SYSTEM SAVAGED

Meanwhile, spending watchdogs said the English planning system was not working well enough and the Government had been unable to show it was meeting housing demand effectively.

Ministers have pledged to build 300,000 homes a year by the middle of the next decade, but the National Audit Office said more than half of councils had no strategy, while infrastructure funding was too uncertain.

It added that developers were managing to dodge clauses in housing contracts that tie them into funding local infrastructure when they build new homes. 

NAO boss Amyas Morse said: "From the flawed method for assessing the number of homes required, to the failure to ensure developers contribute fairly for infrastructure, it is clear the planning system is not working well.

"The Government needs to take this much more seriously and ensure its new planning policies bring about the change that is needed."

Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey said: “This report from the government’s spending watchdog should be a wake-up call for Ministers.

"It shows that deep cuts and poor planning changes are stopping us building the homes the country needs."

Housing Minister Kit Malthouse said: “I recognise the challenges identified by the NAO, and the simple truth is over the last three decades, governments of all stripes have built too few homes of all types...

“But we should also acknowledge that more than 222,000 homes were delivered in 2017-18, the highest level in all but one of the last 31 years. We’re conducting independent reviews on build out rates and planning inquiries."