Two reports have called for an acceleration in the provision of social and affordable housing and an independent review of the use of family hubs.

The studies, carried out by two Oireachtas committees and published this afternoon, also call for independent inspections and monitoring of standards in homeless accommodation.

The Impact of Homelessness on Children report, by the Joint Committee on Children and Youth Affairs, says the best interests of the child must be taken into account by local authorities when providing homeless supports.

It calls for an end to practices such as placing children in hotel and B&B accommodation.

It also says the Government must commission an independent evaluation into the suitability of family hubs.

The committee also recommends a number of reforms to improve the well-being of homeless children. 

These include further supports for schools and the provision of year-round Leap cards for homeless children.

The report says the Government should examine the issue of including the right to housing in the Constitution. 

The Child and Family Homelessness report by the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government calls for an end to the provision of one-night only emergency accommodation.

It also says investment in social and affordable housing must be increased.

Figures for August show the number of homeless families in the State at 1,726 with 3,848 homeless children.

The Labour leader, Brendan Howlin, welcomed the Oireachtas Committee on Housing calling for a national housing strategy focusing on the needs of children and said his party had introduced the Housing Homeless Families Bill in 2017.

He said the homeless situation for children was now significantly worse than it was 20 months ago.

The Wexford TD said there is no statutory basis for consideration of what is best for the family as a whole or for the children in a family. He said Labour's Bill would oblige housing authorities to recognise families as units in homelessness and have to have specific regard to the interests of children.

Mr Howlin asked, given the findings of the committee, if the Government would now commit for a speedy enactment of the Labour housing bill into law.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said said the Department of Housing will respond accordingly to the report and that it was important not lose sight of the progress that has been made in dealing with family and child homelessness.

Mr Coveney said that since the start of the Rebuilding Ireland programme in 2016, the annual increase of children in emergency accommodation has dramatically reduced.

He said while it was not a problem that is solved yet, but the way to solve this issue is to increase the supply of all types of accommodation.

The Tánaiste told Mr Howlin he shares his concern and that he had visited many of the family hubs around the country and that housing families in hotels and B&Bs is not suitable.

The Labour leader asked again if the Government would give a commitment to have his party's housing bill enacted.

Mr Coveney said it was already child-focused, that the family hubs were designed with child specialists and NGOs and organisations.

He said children's services and supports were part of that design and that he was personally very interested in this area. He added that if the legislation makes sense then the Government will support it.