Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


  • Comment
Homeless families are being threatened with having their children taken away from them - as families were nearly 40...
Homeless families are being threatened with having their children taken away from them - as families were nearly 40 years ago, reported The Observer (p5).

The return to the traumatic family break-ups exposed in the 1960s play Cathy Come Home follows a high court ruling last May. Housing experts warn that some children face Christmas in care.

Russell Campbell, chief solicitor at Shelter, said: 'We've been dealt with a string of cases across the country in the last three months where social services are telling homeless families their children should be taken away and fostered or placed in local authority care.

'Councils are saying the only service they are obliged to provide is care for the children'.

Cash-strapped councils, short of housing, won legal challenges to a 10-year-old requirement to help families with children in need. They say housing parents as well goes beyond their legal obligations.

The Children Act 1989 puts the needs of children above all considerations in offering council services and was invoked regularly by homeless families to secure accomodation. However, this use was successfully challenged in court by the London boroughs of Lambeth and Barnet, which are both short of accomodation for homeless families.

The housing crisis has worsened in the past 20 years as millions of council homes sold off were not replaced. Councils built 105,000 homes in England in 1975, but only 110 last year. About 17,000 homes were built last year by housing associations.

Mr Campbell commented: 'Until now the Children Act provided a safety net for our most disadvantaged families. The recent court cases have taken that away. The housing crisis arises from a desparate shortage of family accomodation, but breaking familires up isn't the way to deal with it.

'we will challenge individual cases where we can. As things stand, it's now only a matter of time before family members will be separated'.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.