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Homeless, Hungry and on Benefits - Tonight

Homeless, Hungry and on Benefits is on ITV Thursday 21st December at 7:30pm Photo: ITV/Tonight

With homelessness on the rise, the government said to be tightening up the benefit system, and Universal Credit continuing to be rolled out, some people are facing the prospect of a truly bleak midwinter.

Tonight follows people preparing for the festive period, and reveals a very different side of Christmas.

Nine year old Louis is one of the 120 thousand children who will wake up on Christmas day without a proper home. This year a home was on the top of his Christmas list to Santa.

"I’ve got my letter that I wrote to Santa. This year I’ve asked for a house. Because I just really want a forever home that we can stay in forever. We can all be happy."

– Louis, 9
Louis, 9, is one of the 120 thousand children who will wake up on Christmas day without a proper home Credit: ITV/Tonight

Louis is living in temporary accommodation with his two sisters, Olivia and Emilie, and his mum Nicola who is working full time as a trainee teacher, just outside London.

The family have been in temporary accommodation for 9 months, after Nicola and her husband split up last year. Nicola explains that she couldn’t cover the rent, so she fell into arrears, and had to move out.

Nicola’s finding that her low wage makes getting a home all but impossible. She says private landlords won’t consider her, so she joins scores of others bidding online for social housing. But with few properties available, and over a hundred other people bidding on the same properties as her, Nicola thinks they could be waiting for a very long time.

In Bournemouth, single mum Shel has been moved onto the new benefits system, Universal Credit. Like many others, she will have to wait a number of weeks until after Christmas to receive her first Universal Credit payment. In the meantime, money is very tight.

single mum Shel has been moved onto the new benefits system, Universal Credit Credit: ITV/Tonight

Brooke said if they don’t get presents that they ask for, it’s not the fact that Mummy doesn’t care, it is just the fact that she hasn’t got enough pennies. So, for a five year old to understand that, you know, it’s, it gets to your heart a little bit.

– Shel

The Government say they want to improve lives and are spending £90 billion pounds a year on people who are on low wages or out of work.

They also say they recognise that there’s a serious housing issue, and are determined to help the most vulnerable - committing several billion pounds to fund new building projects.

Useful links:

SHELTER helps people struggling with homelessness through advice, support and legal services.

CRISIS campaign to end homelessness, and work side by side with people to help them to rebuild their lives.

THE JOSEPH ROWNTREE FOUNDATION are working towards solving poverty in the UK through research, policy and practice.

THE TRUSSELL TRUST runs a network of over 400 foodbanks across the UK, and aims to stop hunger.

UNIVERSAL CREDIT government website explaining the new benefits system, Universal Credit.

  • Homeless, Hungry and on Benefits will be broadcast on ITV at 7.30pm on Thursday 21st December.

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