DESPITE it being one of the UK's most prosperous areas and with more older people living there than anyone else, Christchurch has been ranked the WORST place in the south west for child homelessness.

The former borough had the worst reported figures out of 35 areas across the south west - including cities Plymouth and Bristol - to the top of the regional rankings. It is also the 46th worst place in the UK for child homelessness.

According to the homeless charity Shelter, which analysed Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data, the town, with a child population of just over 9,000, had a rate of one in every 105 children being homeless in March this year.

By contrast the giant conurbation of Bristol, which has a child population of 99,000 had a rate of one in 114.

Rates are calculated per head of child population which means that whilst the actual number of children homeless in Christchurch was 88 and Bristol was 869, Christchurch's smaller population means there are relatively MORE homeless kids.

Purbeck fared little better with 63 homeless youngsters and a rating of 143 - just under Bristol's.

Bournemouth was the fifth worst in the south west with 198 homeless kids, Poole was seventh, with East Dorset ranked at number nine.

In all, Dorset dominated the top ten of worst areas for child homelessness in the south west, taking six of the places.

The data was published in the Generation Homeless report compiled by the charity Shelter.

Across the South West, the figure stood at 3,000 – the charity’s analysis suggests that around 3,700 young people across the region became homeless during 2018-19, equivalent to 10 every day.

Across Britain, 183 children per day became homeless – enough to fill more than two double-decker buses, totalling almost 67,000 over the year.

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.

If the rate remains the same this month, around 4,600 more children would lose their home between the start of December and Christmas Day.

Chief executive of Shelter, Polly Neate, 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 said.

“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.

Ms Neate added: “Every child has the right to a safe home and if we act now, we can help get them to a better place.”

Across England, the areas where children were most likely to be homeless were all in London – in Haringey, Westminster and Newham, one in every 12 children were homeless.

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.”

*To hear what local election candidates claim they would do about homelessness in the Dorset area look up your constituency on