As Parliament packs up for Christmas I found myself thinking on the (packed and oversubscribed) Avanti train home about the story of Christmas and the meaning behind it.

Those who celebrate this festive season if prompted would no doubt say Christmas is a time for family, being together, the exchanging of gifts, and if you have young children like me a rapidly emptying wallet!

But as the story goes, before Christ was born, Mary and Joseph spent four or five days trying to find somewhere to stay before they were fortunate enough to find an Inn with room to house them.

This year, the reality is the same for families up and down the country, with doors slammed in their faces and no room at the Inn being starker than ever.

You could call it a Christmas crisis, but the problem doesn’t just persist at this time of year. With that said, it should shame us all that this Christmas almost 139,000 children are homeless.

Many of us will have fond memories of Christmas, opening presents, the idea that Santa read your letter and brought you what you had wished for, the warm home you had Christmas dinner in before collapsing in front of the TV to watch countless films or playing games.

Yet many children’s memories of Christmas will be like that of 11-year-old Marcel, whose family was evicted into a hotel this month and asked his mum “How is Santa going to find me if we are homeless?”

I was hoping to offer some light relief going into 2024 but I can’t help but feel the problem is only going to be further exacerbated next year.

I agree with our Deputy Leader and Shadow Secretary for Levelling Up, Angela Rayner, that a toxic mix of rising rents, no-fault evictions, and the cost of living crisis is a major driving factor of homelessness this Christmas.

On the Tories watch, a homelessness crisis has erupted. People are dying on the streets in Manchester, record children are living in temporary accommodation and private renters have no legal protection against their landlord making them homeless on whim.

As Parliamentarians we have a duty to act in a situation that is quite frankly unsustainable. We have shown before that it can be done.

Bury Times: Bury South MP Christian WakefordBury South MP Christian Wakeford (Image: Christian Wakeford)

The government's "Everyone In" scheme, which housed homeless people in hotels during the pandemic to prevent the spread of Covid, was an example of the government tackling the issue when there's a political will to ensure everyone has a roof over their heads.

According to Shelter, between January and March 2023, 79,840 households faced homelessness in England – the highest figure on record.

I fear the same period next year will result in another record high.

The last time Labour were in government, we all but eradicated rough sleeping. This time, we will do so again.

Merry Christmas and see you all in 2024.