Friday, 29 August 2014

London council housing families in costly hotels

A flagship Conservative council is housing families in hotels costing more than £1,000 a week because it cannot find alternative accommodation.

Figures released by Westminster Council show it has used six hotels where a room for a week costs more than £1,000, with the most expensive, the Royal Eagle Hotel, costing £1,540.

The Labour group on the council claimed the costs are the result of housing benefit caps introduced by the Conservative-led government. These limit the amount of local housing allowance that can be claimed per week from £250 for a one bedroom property up to £400 for a four bedroom property.

Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of the Labour group, said: ‘Having lobbed heavily for the introduction of housing benefit caps, Westminster Conservatives suddenly find out that there are not enough homes available for those in housing need and are now having to pay massive weekly payment to four star hotels which are costing up to six times more than the housing benefit cap levels.’

Last week the BBC reported Westminster has spent £12,000 a month housing some families in hotels, and a total of £2 million in the first nine months of last year.

The Labour group said more than 120 families with children have been in hotels for more than six weeks. Legally councils are only supposed to place families with children in bed and breakfast accommodation when there is no alternative, and not for more than six weeks.

Jonathan Glanz, portfolio holder for housing at Westminster Council, said the authority was under ‘unique pressure’ due to the price of housing in the area and the number of people seeking accommodation.

‘Of those seeking council properties, a third actually have very little connection with Westminster, other than having spent the last six months here,’ he said. ‘Nonetheless, we have a legal duty to house some people in hotels and B&Bs while we assess their longer term needs.

‘We are actively sourcing more temporary accommodation as quickly as possible, and we have added more than 600 units of self-contained accommodation to our stock in the last year.

‘The cap on housing benefits means some of those who used to live in Westminster – one of the most expensive areas in the country - can no longer afford to do so at the taxpayers’ expense.’

Readers' comments (12)

  • This is how Labour controlled Camden are dealing with it;

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/feb/13/london-council-relocation-benefits-cap

    'Camden council plans to move 761 poor families from London

    Council says welfare cuts force shift of 2,816 adults and children'

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  • Peter Wicks

    Shades of Dame Shirley Porter back again...do you remember her in her gerrymandering days in Westminster?..nothing has changed...

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  • Chris

    Just so long as they are not paying them housing benefit!

    The lunacy that is Tory economics laid bare. It is not cost effective to help someone stay in their own home, indeed Tories spend money hounding the poor out of their home; but it is cost effective to pay many times the cost to pay for temporary accomodation.

    It is 'causing benefit dependency' to build homes that people can afford, but Tory efficiency to pay many time the amount to private landlords, and now hoteliers as well.

    And to put icing on the cake of Tory Maddness, they actually believe: '‘The cap on housing benefits means some of those who used to live in Westminster – one of the most expensive areas in the country - can no longer afford to do so at the taxpayers’ expense.’' - Who do they think is paying for the £1,000+ per week hotel fees - oh yes, Westminster can afford this at the taxpayers expense, but not progressive solutions.

    Madder still - all Labour can do is copy the insanity.

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  • Westminster should be banned from housing in this way its a waste of tax payers money.

    Why should poor have a choice where they live if the state is paying for it?

    Does the family in question on the bbc article work? Not inculding illness, if you do not work and why should you have a better home than me paid for by the tax payer?

    There is this funny thing called work, when you work you can chose where you live.

    Councils and HA’s should only give priority if you’re in work

    Dump them in hull or southend.

    Maybe if some councils, HAs cut the pay off their directors, they could afford to build more homes.

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  • Eric Blair

    This is just an intermediate stage before the council does a Pontius Pilate and washes its hands of homeless families. I wonder what gives people the right to sit in judgement of other human beings. Inflated egos and delusions of adequacy perhaps.

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  • Iron Fist

    MTD ORD - many of those poor may well be working, but in part time low paid work that requires them to top this up with benefits. They will be paying tax and NI just like all other employees. Where do you get off suggesting they should be treated like cattle? Perhaps you ran a gulag or labour camp in a previous life?

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  • Tenantplustwo

    Please see his link

    source is:-

    ttp://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/author/pdimoldenberg/

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  • MTD Ord - you do not know the circumstances of this family. i pray you never have cause through no fault of your own to face this situation. how do you know they are not working for a sweat shop owner or have even just lost a well paid job. no one is immune. there but for the grace of god....

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  • Tenantplustwo

    Everyone said this would happen. The government denied it. Now it is happening, and all they can do is bleat that "It's not right that benefit claimants can receive higher incomes than families who are in work." Well, that's not surprising given that so many employers pay their workers less than a living wage, while paying their executives huge sums and paying, guess what, next to no tax.
    On the other hand, the government obviously think it's quite fair to uproot people from places where they have lived perhaps for generations, tear them away from friends and extended family and support network, and dump them in a place hundreds of miles away where they don't know anyone and will be isolated from everyone they hold dear.
    I can't begin to calculate the fall-out from this - the disruption of children's education for starters, the burden placed on other local authorities, what will happen to the jobs of those who are in work, the misery and fear. Not to mention that the wealthier people of Camden might suddenly find that the low-paid people doing the jobs that make their own lives sweet are no longer around to clean their houses, empty their bins, care for their grannies, mend their roads, serve in their shops or look after their children.
    This is incompetence and blinkered ideology on a truly grotesque scale. Have they not thought it through, or do they just think it doesn't matter? Either way, it makes the Tories and their allies (many of whom will probably be trolling here about 'unfairness to those in work', conveniently forgetting that most recipients of housing benefit are in work) the most callous government in recent history. Even Thatcher didn't dare think this one up.

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  • Tenantplustwo

    Scapegoating minorities, especially poor people/the unemployed/the long-term sick/the disabled.

    Absolutely Abhorrent?

    "It's not right that benefit claimants can receive higher incomes than families who are in work." Indeed it isn't but since they don't, why is the DWP using this non-existent scenario as justification for what they're doing? More evidence, as if any were needed, that something is very wrong at the Department for Work and Pensions.

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