WEYMOUTH and Portland has the highest rate of 'homeless' children in the south west, new analysis reveals.

The borough is ranked top in a table compiled by homelessness charity Shelter which has raised concerns about the increasing amount of children without a permanent home.

Children are homeless when their families are in temporary accommodation (TA) such as hostels and B&Bs and also council-leased properties.

The amount of TA children in Weymouth and Portland in the first quarter of 2018 was 121 – that's up from 76 five years ago – a 59 per cent increase.

Of a population of 12,149 who are 0-17 year olds, the TA rate is 1 in 100.4 – placing the borough above Bristol which although has 846 TA children, the rate is lower at 1 in 111.1. Weymouth and Portland is placed 47 in national rankings.

Purbeck has the third highest rate in the south west of 1 in 122.6 having 69 TA children.

West Dorset fares better having the 16th highest rate in the region with 29 TA children – a rate of 1 in 625.5.

Shelter has warned the impact of the housing crisis will be 'felt across a generation' as one in every 103 children in Britain is now homeless.

And it says nearly 3,000 children in the south west will now wake up Christmas morning without a permanent home.

The charity is calling on the public to support its urgent Christmas appeal – to give families the vital helpline advice and services they need in order to keep their homes over the festive period.

Greg Beales, director of campaigns at Shelter said: “The number of children hidden away in hostels and BnBs is enough to make anyone’s heart sink. These are not places for children. We hear about cold, damp – even rats. Young children are sharing beds with multiple family members, trying to play in dirty public corridors, and having to leave their block in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.

“Over the last five years, hundreds of thousands of children have known what it’s like to be homeless. The impact these young people cannot be overstated."

To support Shelter’s appeal visit www.shelter.org.uk or text SHELTER to 70020 to donate £3.

CLLR Gill Taylor, Housing Briefholder for Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, said: ‘We try to avoid housing families in emergency bed and breakfast accommodation. We help them move into more suitable accommodation as soon as possible. We currently have nine children in B&B accommodation, the rest are in temporary accommodation (private flats and houses leased to the council). This temporary accommodation is available to families until permanent accommodation, such as social or private rented housing is available. There is a shortage of social housing in Weymouth and we rely heavily on our temporary accommodation and the private sector. Any household in B&B will have an officer working with them all the time to help them find more suitable accommodation.

“When someone is threatened with homelessness they are encouraged to register with us. A housing assessor might then be able to prevent their homelessness easily or may have to refer them for a more in depth interview. Our aim is always to prevent homelessness occurring in the first place and we will work with the landlord or family member to try and keep the applicant in their home, or even negotiate an extension to the notice to quit, while they look for further accommodation. If this is not possible and they become homeless, then families with dependent children or who are pregnant will be placed into temporary accommodation or B and B, depending on what is available. If we can avoid B&B we always will.

“We have a lettings team that work with private landlords and our housing officers work to help relieve homelessness and move applicants into private rented accommodation. We also have an accommodation finder who finds housing, whether it’s a leased property that can be used as temporary accommodation or private rented accommodation. We also have an online portal on our website, Dorsetforyou, so that other public bodies and our partners can let us know if someone is threatened with homelessness. This aims to stop people slipping through the net and is intended to give us more time to work with people before they reach a point of crisis.”