Hopkins and Cameron
Kris Hopkins, England's local government minister, with the Prime Minister David CameronGetty

Thousands of children across Britain are at threat of having a homeless Christmas as those living in temporary accommodation is at a three-year-high, Shelter has warned.

The homelessness charity estimated that there were 90,569 children living in temporary accommodation in England, Scotland, and Wales in the second quarter of 2014, up from 76,650 in 2011 - representing a 13,919 rise.

With the number of homeless families on the rise, Shelter said it is bracing itself for a surge in demand for its already "over-stretched" advice services.

"In the 21st century it cannot be right that homeless children are experiencing severe emotional distress, facing three hour round trips to school and having to eat their dinner on the floor," said Campbell Robb, the chief executive of Shelter.

"These days it only takes one thing to push a family into a downward spiral which can end in homelessness, and we're bracing ourselves for an increase in demand from families who desperately need our help to keep a roof over their heads.

"Our advisers will be working tirelessly to support people who find themselves homeless this Christmas but it's getting harder and harder for us to be there for every family that needs us."

But Kris Hopkins, England's local government minister, said: "This government has increased spending to prevent homelessness, making over £500m ($798m, €639m) available to help the most vulnerable in society and have kept strong protections to guard families against the threat of homelessness.

"This is to ensure we don't return to the bad old days when homelessness in England was nearly double what it is today.

"Councils have a responsibility to move homeless households into settled accommodation as quickly as possible and we have changed the law so that they can place families in decent and affordable private rented homes.

"All this has meant statutory homelessness remains lower than in 27 of the last 30 years."