A Labour government would end the misery of families stuck in temporary accommodation by raising £560 million from wealthy owners of second homes.
BirminghamLive has reported on the Birmingham parents trying to raise the children in hostels, bed and breakfast accommodation and cheap hotels.
They’re placed in temporary accommodation by the local council for a variety of reasons, but a big part of the problem is that there aren’t enough affordable homes in the city.
Now, Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey has revealed plans to end “the scandal of kids without a home”.
Speaking at Labour’s annual conference in Liverpool, he told BirminghamLive that a Labour government would introduce a national fund paid for by a new tax on holiday homes, which lie empty for much of the year.
Owners of these properties would pay a fee equal to double the rate of council tax, on top of their usual council tax bills.
The cash would be distributed to local councils based on how many households they have in temporary accommodation. It means Birmingham would be one of the big gainers.
Mr Healey said: “We will bring in a national levy for empty homes used as holiday homes.
“It will be at a level equivalent of double the average council tax.
“We will earmark this to help those kids, those families, without a home.
“To our shame there are a number of families with children living in hostel accommodation - 20,000 kids tonight with no home to go to.
“We reckon it will raise at least half a billion a year to deal with this growing problem, this scandal, of kids without a home.
“The principle is that those who have done well out of the housing market should pay a bit more to help those who haven’t.”
Official figures earlier this year showed there were 574 Birmingham households placed in bed and breakfasts or hotels by the council.
Across the West Midlands region, there are currently 3,410 households in temporary accommodation. It can mean families sharing one bedroom and doing without a kitchen, forcing parents to rely on pre-packaged sandwiches or take-aways to feed their children.
A lot of the funding will be raised in coastal areas. The council with the highest number of holiday homes is Cornwall, where there are 13,767, although it is likely that these belong to wealthy people who usually live elsewhere rather than Cornwall residents.
Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “It’s good news that there’s going to be a fund for helping people in temporary accommodation.
“The truth is that in Birmingham we have far too many people in that situation.
“A Labour government stepping in with a public sector solution to this would be very good news indeed.”