Temporary accommodation provides an important safety net and ensures that no child is left without a home. In 2011, we changed the law so that councils can place families in decent and affordable private rented homes. This now means that homeless households should not have to wait as long for settled accommodation and should spend less time in temporary accommodation.
A constituent of mine is living in temporary accommodation with her children, aged two and seven, opposite a nightclub. The noise keeps her children scared and awake at night. Shelter Scotland says that 13% of homeless households spend over a year in temporary accommodation, and that those with children tend to spend more time in temporary accommodation than those without. What does the Minister think the long-term impact is on children who spend a long time in temporary accommodation?
First, I acknowledge the work the hon. Lady did before coming to the House, working for Shelter Scotland, which is an organisation we work with very closely on wider homelessness, most recently on our rough sleeping strategy. We acknowledge there has been an increase—a 2% rise in the latest figures to March 2018. No one wants to be in temporary accommodation too long, especially children. However, there are good examples of local authorities leading the way in ensuring families spend less time in temporary accommodation. One such example is Barnet Council, whose targeted approach to support has seen the number of children in temporary accommodation reduce by 11%.
We are committing an enormous amount of money—£1.2 billion over the spending period—and we expect local authorities to follow the example of councils such as Barnet, which has managed to achieve that reduction. I encourage the hon. Gentleman to talk to his local authority and perhaps to approach Barnet to see an example of best practice.
Local authorities are ignoring circulars from the Department and housing children in temporary accommodation many miles from their place of education. What can my hon. Friend do to enforce circulars and make councils take into account educational requirements when housing children and their families?
My hon. Friend makes a superb point. I can be absolutely clear from the Dispatch Box that local authorities must take account of circulars. It does seem nonsensical that councils are taking this approach. Youngsters are being taken away from their local areas and their schooling is being affected.