Jeremy Corbyn has warned that the Government is “failing a whole generation of children” who are falling victim to rising homelessness and poverty.
The Labour leader’s remarks come after a report by the Children’s Commissioner for England estimated there could be more than 210,000 youngsters without a permanent home in England, with thousands living in dangerous converted shipping containers.
At a visit to a children’s lunch club in an undisclosed location in Wales on Friday, Mr Corbyn will say that Labour would “take radical action” to improve the situation.
According to Mr Corbyn, stopping the roll-out of Universal Credit and introducing 30 hours of free childcare a week for all two- to four-year-olds will help people in poverty.
Mr Corbyn said: “Working-class children are still being held back while their wealthy peers get ahead.
“The next Labour government will take radical action to unlock the potential of every child, not just a lucky few.
“A child growing up in a shipping container or a B&B, or going to school hungry, cannot be expected to reach their full potential.
“The Tories are failing a whole generation of children. A child growing up in a shipping container or a B&B, or going to school hungry, cannot be expected to reach their full potential.
“The measure of our society is how we treat our most vulnerable. And who could be more vulnerable than a homeless child?
“We have a moral responsibility to end the scandal of child poverty and homelessness.”
Mr Corbyn will say that Labour will provide free school meals for all primary school children and build a million “genuinely affordable homes” to lift people out of homelessness.
He will also say that his party will introduce 30 hours of free childcare a week for all two- to four-year-olds and halt the closures of Sure Start centres.
In addition, he will pledge to increase funding for schools and to reduce class sizes to fewer than 30.
Mr Corbyn will also say that ending the public sector pay cap and introducing a real living wage of at least £10 an hour will boost household income, and that stopping the roll-out of Universal Credit will prevent people from being pushed into poverty.
Conservative Party deputy chairman Paul Scully, however, defended the Government’s record on fighting unemployment, and warned that Labour would only make things worse.
Mr Scully said: “Jeremy Corbyn would wreck the economy, which would drive up poverty and unemployment.
“Work is the best route out of poverty. It’s the Conservatives who have brought down unemployment to its lowest levels since the 1970s, meaning more children than ever before living in a working home.
“Labour would tax more, borrow more and waste more, and, just like last time, it’s working people who would pay the price.”
The Children’s Commissioner for England has warned 210,000 homeless children are now being housed in unsuitable temporary accommodation across the UK.
This includes families being rehoused cheek by jowl in repurposed office blocks, cramped hostels and even families with children housed in shipping containers.
She warned children are spending months housed in metal containers of just 18 square metres blisteringly hot in summer and freezing in winter.
Children across the UK were being “robbed of their childhood” her damning report warned.
Families are spending months in “cramped and unsafe” conditions by living inside converted shipping containers used as temporary accommodation for the homeless.
Thousands of children are growing up in “dangerous” converted shipping containers and office blocks in “cramped conditions”, a report has found.
Some 124,000 youngsters are classed as officially homeless and living in temporary accommodation – plus around 90,000 in “sofa-surfing” families – but the report believes that the actual figures could be much higher due to a lack of data.
Polly Neate, chief executive of housing and homelessness charity Shelter, called the analysis “damning” and said homelessness was “robbing… children of a decent childhood”.
“No child should be spending months if not years living in a converted shipping container, a dodgy old office block or an emergency B&B,” she said.
“But a cocktail of punitive welfare policies, a woeful lack of social homes and wildly expensive private rents mean this is frighteningly commonplace.
“We constantly hear from struggling families forced to accept unsuitable, and sometimes downright dangerous accommodation because they have nowhere else to go.
“The devastating impact this has on a child’s development and wellbeing cannot be overstated.”