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Tessa Jowell hits out at “public disgrace” of 1,237 homeless children in Southwark

Dame Tessa Jowell has slammed the growing number of children living in temporary accommodation as “a private tragedy and a public disgrace” for Southwark.

The borough is now home to over 1,000 homeless children, according to “heartbreaking” new statistics highlighted by the politican, who is standing down as Dulwich and West Norwood MP at the upcoming general election.

There are 1,237 children living in temporary accommodation such as hostels or B&Bs – a huge 40% increase from 882 two years ago. This means that one in every 50 Southwark kids do not have the security and comfort of a permanent home.

Ms Jowell said: “It’s heartbreaking to see so many children in Southwark growing up without the basic necessity of their own home. Inequality is robbing these children of their childhood.

“What children need above all is stability, but that’s extremely hard to come by in temporary accommodation. Cramped living conditions, stressed parents and the endless, day-to-day uncertainty of homelessness can do untold damage to children at just the time when they most benefit from a safe environment.”

Kate Webb, head of policy for housing charity Shelter, agreed.

She told the News: “No child should have to go through the trauma of homelessness and it’s heart-breaking to see such a dramatic rise in the number of children living in temporary accommodation, both in Southwark and across the capital.

“Every day at Shelter we speak to homeless parents having to raise their children in a place that offers no stability, leaving many experiencing severe emotional distress, facing three hour round trips to school and having to eat their dinner on the floor. This just isn’t right.”

Councillor Richard Livingstone, Southwark’s cabinet member for housing, blamed the problem on “changes to welfare provision and the downside of the privately rented sector.”He said: “To help address this, we are opening new temporary accommodation over the summer at Willow Walk, D’Eynsford Estate and at Waterloo Road. Longer term, we’ve embarked on an ambitious home building programme which will see 11,000 high quality and affordable homes built for local people by 2043, with the first 1,500 complete by 2018.”



  1. It is good to hear Ms Jowell raise these issues. It is a shame though that she cannot be trusted to tell the truth after her astonishing claim that her husband was ‘exonerated’ of serious charges against him in Italy. After being found guilty in the first two stages of prosecution his case was dropped due to the stature of limitations. This is not exoneration under Italian law. It is understandably annoying for Mills that he is unable to declare that he is ‘exonerated’ – Italian law is indeed deeply frustrating. But if one knowsthe details of the case to brush it all under the carpet as ‘exoneration’ is really being less than transparent.

  2. 11,000 homes by 2043? I wonder how long the waiting lists will be by then.

    It’s so frustrating to see this, and to also see how Lend Lease have got away with profiteering from the Heygate, while so many people in need of decent housing are left to rot.

    Whilst it’s easy to blame individuals, it’s actually the process that’s at fault. And for that we need to look at central government. What has disappointed me most is that not one of the parties has pledged to tackle the spiralling cost of housing. We need to slow the infaltion of the market down. Tax foreign investment purchases (as they have done in Hong Kong), control rents, and engage on a mass building programme, like we did post war. It can all be done. All the main parties however are too addicted to the income for the treasury from the housiong sector to put building according to need before building for greed.

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