Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, has published new research which shines a light on the thousands of children growing up in homeless families. The report, “Bleak houses: Tackling the crisis of family homelessness in England”, shows that while official statistics show 120,000 children in England are living in temporary accommodation, this does not include the hidden homeless who are ‘sofa-surfing’, often in very cramped conditions. New analysis conducted for the Children’s Commissioner for England estimates that in 2016/17 there were 90,000 children living in sofa-surfing families.
The Children’s Commissioner is also warning that official figures fail to capture a small but highly vulnerable group of homeless children who have been placed in temporary accommodation by children’s services rather than by the council’s housing department. This includes families who have been deemed to have made themselves “intentionally homeless”, and those with no recourse to public funds as a result of their immigration status. There is no publicly available data on how many families are being housed in this way.