Housing crisis forces more than 1,600 youngsters to leave Westminster

The West End Extra reports;

“MORE than 1,600 children were forced to move out of Westminster last year due to a chronic shortage of housing in the borough.

Families have been housed as far afield as Southend-on-Sea and Great Yarmouth, while others are placed in temporary accommodation in London boroughs.

Karen Buck MP said the figures demonstrated an alarming trend where children’s education is disrupted by either being forced to commute great distances every day or frequently change schools.

She said: “It is very alarming to see how many children are having to undergo this awful experience, especially given that for many of them it won’t involve one move, but several.”

She added: “The wellbeing of children is being significantly compromised by the worsening situation and the council cannot ignore these implications any longer.”

The shocking figures were released by Westminster Council following a Freedom of Information request by West End Extra.

Earlier this year, the council said the number of homeless families was increasing as the effects of housing benefit cuts start to hit, leaving families unable to pay their rent.

They said that finding properties “within or close to Westminster is increasingly difficult”, and added: “More properties will need to be sourced outside of the borough.”

Ms Buck painted a bleak picture of the effects this is having on her constituents, saying:

“You’ve got families in emergency accommodation who can’t move school because they literally don’t know from one day to the next where they’re going to be.

“So we’ve got families who are commuting in to Westminster school’s from the other side of Hounslow and from Barking and Dagenham.

“The schools will tell me ‘we have kids coming in completely shattered’. Parents will show me letters of complaint from the school about kids not getting in on time. And the parents are weeping in my surgery, saying ‘what are they supposed to do?’”

Cllr Jonathan Glanz, the council’s cabinet member for housing and property, said:

“Nobody wants to disrupt children’s schooling, but the reality of the new welfare caps means some families cannot afford to stay in their properties.

“The council tries to minimise disruption and we have placed a children’s officer with the housing options service specifically to work with parents.”

“However, lots of parents know that schooling does not start and end at the council’s boundaries. Significant numbers of children come into our borough for their education and Westminster children travel elsewhere for schooling.

“That has long been the case and it has not led to the breakdown of families.

“If you have to move, it is surely worth investigating the options for an equally good education available near your new home.

“A school at the end of your road may well be preferable to a school that requires a two-hour tube trip.”

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This entry was posted in Children, Exporting those in housing need, Homeless Families, Housing, Housing Benefit, Poverty, Private rented housing, Young People and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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