MORE than 400 children have been left homeless and living in temporary accommodation in Southampton, figures reveal.

The housing charity Shelter estimates a child was made homeless every eight minutes across Britain last year, with many staying in cold and cramped spaces and uprooted from friends.

Analysis of Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data by the charity shows that 426 children were homeless and living in temporary accommodation in Southampton at the end of March.

Across the South East, the figure stood at 11,700 – the charity’s analysis suggests that around 7,400 young people across the region became homeless during 2018-19, equivalent to 20 every day.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said the “scandalous” figure is a reminder that political promises about tackling homelessness must be turned into real action.

“Day in, day out we see the devastating impact the housing emergency is having on children across the country,” she added.“They are being uprooted from friends, living in cold, cramped B&Bs and going to bed at night scared by the sound of strangers outside.”

Shelter estimates that at least 135,000 children across Britain will be homeless and in temporary accommodation by Christmas Day – the highest number in 12 years.

It is calling on political parties to put housing policy at the top of their agendas.

A government spokeswoman said: “Every child should have somewhere safe to live, and councils have a duty to provide temporary accommodation to those who need it, including families with children.

“We’re supporting them to reduce the numbers in temporary accommodation by giving £1.2 billion to tackle all types of homelessness.”

A Southampton City Council spokesperson said: “While we welcome Shelter’s report and the light it shines upon children in need, particularly at this time of year, it’s important to remember the figures refer to the number of children in families where as a result of their homelessness we have provided temporary accommodation.

“All the accommodation we provide is self-contained, of good quality, located in Southampton, and wherever possible allocated to enable families to retain links with relatives, schools and services. We also offer a support service while we try to get families settled in longer-term homes, which is always our aim.

“We are very aware of an increasing demand from homeless families with children in Southampton and we’re committed to supporting those in need now and in the future.”

Hampshire's leading homeless charity, The Society of St James, said that it is "proud" of the accommodation that it does have for homeless families.

The charity provides 13 units of accommodation for homeless families who are nominated to the charity by Southampton City Council.

Trevor Pickup, chief executive of the Society of St James, said: "Some of the accommodation in the city is of a high standard and we should be proud of that, but on the other hand it is a crisis that families are becoming homeless."