Housing success for Westminster Labour Councillors as Council stops housing families in B&B hotels for more than 6 weeks

Labour Councillors in Westminster are celebrating their success in shaming Westminster Conservatives in to finally take action to stop their illegal practice of housing homeless families with children in Bed & Breakfast accommodation for more than six weeks.

Early this year there were over 170 families with children in B&B accommodation for more than 6 weeks and involved the Council spending over £25 million on housing homeless families in temporary accommodation, including expensive hotels, because the Council could not find anywhere to house them. The Council spent £248,000 on rooms at the Jurys Inn Hotel in Chelsea during January and February 2013 and paid £171,000 for rooms at the Copthorne Tara Hotel, Kensington.

Earlier this year Westminster Council’s spending on housing families in hotels in London, including the West End, was £145,000 a week, according to information supplied to Labour Councillors by Council officers. On an annual basis this worked 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 was “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 was taken by the Council despite these clear Government warnings.

Now Councillors have been told;

“There are now no (zero) Families in B&B over 6 weeks (reduced from a peak of 171 several months ago) which is reflective of procuring more self-contained accommodation. In recent weeks, the supply of new self-contained properties is exceeding new demand but remains predominantly ‘nightly booked’ accommodation although more than 30 new long-term leased properties were sourced in the month. “

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group, outlined Labour’s campaign to make the Council comply with the law which included;

• Questions to the Cabinet member for Housing at every Council meeting and every meeting of the Finance and Housing Scrutiny Committee asking for details of the numbers of families in B&B and the cost and what action the Council was taking to reduce the numbers
• A challenge to the Cabinet Member for Housing to resign if the number of families in B&B for more than six weeks was not reduced to zero by September
• Regular information to the local and national press so that the Council’s failure to comply with the law was made public widely and regularly
• Close cooperation with Karen Buck MP so that Westminster’s failure to act could be raised in Parliament and directly with Ministers

Councillor Dimoldenberg said;

“There are now no Westminster families who have been in B&B accommodation for more than 6 weeks and that is very good news. After a long-running campaign Labour Councillors have shamed the Conservatives in to taking action and housing families with children properly, as well as saving tax payers millions of pounds. “

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This entry was posted in B&B accommodation, Council finances, Families, Homeless Families, Housing, Karen Buck MP, Temporary accommodation, Westminster Council waste and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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