Headlines: April 16th, 2004

A million children growing up in overcrowded, unfit or emergency housing are suffering from serious health problems and poor education and their futures are being blighted, according to the homeless charity Shelter.It has announced the biggest campaign in its history with the aim of ending the devastating impact of the housing crisis on children in Britain. The campaign was launched with the publication of “Toying With Their Future”, a report that reveals for the first time that more a million children living in sub-standard homes or emergency housing are subject to serious illness and deprivation.

The reports key findings include evidence that one in every twelve children are more likely to develop diseases such as bronchitis, TB or asthma because of bad housing and that children who are homeless miss out on a quarter of their schooling. The charity is calling on the government and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales to commit themselves to ending bad housing for the next generation of children. The Shelter estimates are based on official figures for children living in overcrowded, temporary or unfit housing and a report from the Health Development Agency, linking chronic or infectious diseases and mental problems to overcrowded, damp or temporary housing.

The report sets out a five-point plan for ending the crisis. It calls for more investment in new homes and in improvements and repairs, for better regulation of landlords, for more support to prevent homelessness and for the creation of neighbourhoods that secure children’s health and well being.

Launching the campaign, Adam Sampson, Director of Shelter, said there was a hidden housing crisis in Britain and more than a million children were suffering the devastating consequences of it on their health, their education and their chances in life. “It is time for housing to be put back up the political agenda along with education and health, where it belongs,” he added.