Many parents and grand-parents will have gone to their local school, church or community hall during the last week to see their children take part in Nativity performances.
The Christmas story evokes thoughts about the need for children to have a safe home, a secure roof over their head and to be given the opportunity to reach their maximum potential.
Anyone seriously concerned about these issues can only be dismayed by the direction of travel in the UK today.
Last week, without publicity, the government published the latest homelessness statistics.
These reveal that the number of children who are homeless and living in temporary accommodation has reached 124,000, compared to 109,000 at the same time last year.
The number of households that have become homeless after an eviction over the last year is up 12% compared to a year ago at 18,820. In addition, the total number of households in temporary accommodation has risen to 74,630, up 9% on a year earlier.
The vast majority of homeless is not a result of fecklessness. What we have seen over the past decade is a massive increase in the private-rented sector, fuelled by buy-to-let, with shorthold tenancies and persistent rent increases. Working families, who have just managed to hold on financially, have found themselves priced out of their homes and of the rental market at the end of their tenancies
21,400 homeless households – a 15% rise in the last year – have been sent on forced marches to a different area, away from their jobs, the children’s schools and their families and friends, which is having a devastating effect on family life.
The government’s housing plans are in disarray. The government’s new-build housing promises were being torn up within weeks of them being made. The long-promised housing white paper has been pushed back again into 2017.
We started this century with a decade of falling homelessness and a massive reduction in rough-sleeping. Since 2010, we have seen year-on-year increases. Anyone who says ‘voting doesn’t change anything’ is clearly living in a fact-free world.