Westminster Council’s spending on housing families in hotels in London, including the West End, is now £145,000 a week, according to the latest information supplied to Labour Councillors by Council officers. On an annual basis this works out at a massive £7.5 million.
In November 2012 Westminster City Council was told by Housing Minister Mark Prisk MP that its continued placing of families with children in Bed & Breakfast Hotels for more than six weeks is “unlawful and unacceptable”. In April 2012, the then Housing Minister Grant Shapps MP wrote to council leader Philippa Roe and said: “I have instructed my officials to contact your authority and offer their help and support in reducing levels of B & B use.” No action has been taken by the Government despite these clear warnings.
Now, Westminster Council Housing officers have told Councillors the extent of the weekly cost of the Council’s continued defiance of the law;
“The numbers of hotels and their locations vary as we are spot booking different ones; there are currently c. 20 that are being used and are in a variety of different boroughs including Westminster, Brent, Hackney, Haringey; current spend is c. £145K per week”
Earlier this week, Labour Councillors called for an enquiry into why Westminster Council is paying up to three times more than the going rate for West End hotel rooms, as part of the Council’s £85,000 weekly bill to house families in 10 West End hotels following the introduction of Housing Benefit caps.
According to a Metro investigation http://metro.co.uk/2013/02/18/westminster-council-spending-85000-on-hotels-for-families-forced-out-by-benefits-cap-3481743/
“The council is paying £1,540 a week to the three-star Royal Eagle Hotel in Bayswater for family rooms despite its £581-a-week charge for doubles.
It is paying £1,015 to Quality Hotel Wembley to house a family in a single room. The hotel said the largest family room is £519 a week for the public while its double rooms go for £65 a night.
And Westminster is paying £1,277 a week for a family room at the Ambassador’s Hotel in Kensington. A double is £392.”
Last week, Labour Councillors revealed that Westminster City Council is spending almost £85,000 a week housing families in 10 West End hotels, with over £22,500 a week paid to the Central Park Hotel, two minutes’ walk from Hyde Park and over £17,000 a week paid to the Copthorne Tara Hotel in Kensington. On an annual basis, this works out at almost £4.5 million a year.
This latest information on Westminster’s housing crisis, caused by an acute lack of social housing and the introduction of Housing Benefit caps, was provided to Labour Councillors by Council officers who say “Because these hotels are used on a spot booking basis there is not a regular weekly charge; the table below shows the expenditure in a recent week on these (but it will vary)”
|Royal Eagle Hotel||
|Copthorne Tara Hotel Ldn Ken||
|Comfort Inn Buckingham Palace||
|Ambassadors Hotel London||
|Quality Hotel Wembley||
|Central Park Hotel||
|Comfort Inn Vauxhall Hotel||
|Holiday Inn Exp London City||
|Jurys Inn Chelsea London||
|Royal National Hotel||
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group, said;
“Westminster Council’s hotel bills continue to rise as London’s housing crisis deepens. Not only is the Council breaking the law, but it is now guilty of gross financial incompetence in paying sky high prices for hotel rooms. The Council has a highly paid Director of Procurement so why hasn’t the Council negotiated lower rates and saved tens of thousands of pounds on its £145,000 weekly hotel bills?”