While the Government achieve an overall ‘C’ grade in Report Card 19, published by the Children’s Rights Alliance a low grade, ‘D-’, is awarded in relation to Traveller and Roma Children.

This represents a small but significant decrease on the ‘D+’ attributed last year.

Kathleen Lawrence speaking at the launch of Report Card 2019

Homelessness

“While there has been welcome progress on the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy actions,” says the report, “We are concerned at the repeated underspend of local authorities on Traveller specific accommodation despite increasing numbers of homeless Traveller families.”

The report urges the Government to publish the report of the Traveller Accommodation Expert Group as a matter of urgency to address the significant accommodation issues faced by Traveller families – higher rates of homelessness and overcrowding than the general population.

The Government gets an ‘F’ in Report Card 2019 in relation to child and family homelessness.

Roma Needs

Roma needs must also be addressed, the report states. The Roma Needs Assessment published by the Department of Justice and Equality in 2018 found that Roma face significant discrimination in accessing accommodation.

The living conditions for Roma were found to be very poor with many families living in overcrowded accommodation often without a tenancy agreement.

Many Roma live in accommodation without basic facilities such as a kitchen, cooker, running water or heat.  The Needs Assessment reported that some families had their water turned off or fuses removed by landlords when their rent was overdue.

The Needs Assessment also found that some Roma children live in overcrowded housing with rats, damp and sewerage. Respondents reported that they did not have basic supplies for new-born babies and that children are going to school hungry and without lunch.

The National Traveller Roma Inclusion Strategy (NTRIS) does not include any objectives which specifically support the Roma community in relation to accommodation. Further research should be carried out to ascertain the housing situation of the Roma community.

Report Card 2019 also calls on the Government to develop and publish an implementation plan for NTRIS.