‘Teens on streets’

Housing and benefits system failing homeless children stuck in B&Bs, says Barnardo�s

Housing and benefits system failing homeless children stuck in B&Bs, says Barnardo�s - Credit: Barnardo#s charity

Hundreds of children may be living on the streets of Islington after leaving school because of a growing homeless crisis, a top charity has warned.

Barnardos says the borough is among the worst affected by the surge in homelessness in London, which is home to four fifths of the UK’s homeless children.

Islington alone had 959 homeless households living in temporary accommodation at the end of last year,

This included 124 families being made homeless in the last three months of 2014 alone.

Most homeless families are put up in short-term social or private rented housing, or in other temporary accommodation.

In Islington at the end of last year, there were 75 homeless households living in hostels.

Lynn Gradwell, director of Barnardo’s in London, said: “A lot of kids face ending up on the streets – so councils are having to put them up in bed and breakfasts.

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“There’s a hidden population of young people living on streets that we don’t know about.

“They’re sleeping in beds, in sheds and sofa surfing where they can. They become invisible. It’s sad.”

The children’s charity has criticised the housing and benefits system for failing homeless children in Islington and is urging all political parties in the run-up to the general election to re-think these policies which they say is throwing youngsters onto the streets when they reach 18.

“It’s a real crisis for children over 18 when they aren’t covered by social services”, said Ms Gradwell.

“Bedroom tax hits a lot of families. They have less cash for priorities like food and shelter and can’t cover basic needs.

“We need to lift bedroom tax if no other accommodation is available.”

A council spokesman said: “In Islington, we don’t recognise the picture painted in this article. Making sure every child has a suitable home is a key priority in Islington.

“There are very few children sleeping rough in the borough, and we do a lot of work to prevent such homelessness. When we do find that children are homeless, Housing and Children’s Services work together as a matter of urgency to either help them to return home or find safe, secure accommodation in the borough

“Children in Islington are never placed in B&Bs and haven’t been for many years now.”

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