Inside Housing has revealed that Westminster Council has paid out only one third of the estimated money due to over 400 homeless families in B&B compensation;
“Westminster Council has paid £153,968 in compensation to 81 homeless families who were illegally kept in bed and breakfast accommodation.
The Conservative-led council broke the law by keeping more than 400 families and pregnant women in B&Bs for more than six weeks since 2011.
A Local Government Ombudsman report last September found ‘maladministration causing injustice’ at Westminster Council, and recommended that the local authority pay a ‘financial remedy’ to families illegally kept in B&B accommodation past the six-week limit.
Westminster agreed to pay £500 compensation for each family kept longer than six weeks, with a further £83.33 payment for every subsequent week.
To date, more than eight months since the LGO report was published, Westminster has paid less than a third of the total cost it estimated, the council admitted.
In a cabinet meeting on 14 October last year, Westminster estimated costs of up to £555,000 – more than three times the value paid so far. The compensation payments are being drawn from the council’s £35 million temporary accommodation budget.
Despite written promises to the LGO last year to send letters to the 400-plus families, a Westminster spokesperson said the council still hadn’t written to all families.
The spokesperson said: ‘We will be writing to every family affected since 2011 as soon as possible.’
Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour council leader for Westminster, accused the council of ‘dragging their feet’ about contacting all the families affected.
Mr Dimoldenberg said: ‘The council knows where the families are living and should have made this a priority after it had been found guilty of breaking the law in so many cases. You get the feeling that the Conservatives simply do not care about the damage they have caused to so many vulnerable families.’