Between 2010/11 and 2013/14, Westminster Council almost doubled expenditure on temporary accommodation, to £40.25 million, and the number of homeless households rose by almost 500 to 2,366, according to the ‘Evening Standard’.
“Thousands of London families are being shunted between hotels as councils struggle with a wave of homelessness sparked by Government cuts.
“Town halls are spending vastly more on emergency accommodation to keep parents and children off the streets than since the Coalition came to power, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Separate Government statistics show that 44,370 London families are homeless — almost 6,500 more than 2010 — and councils are struggling to maintain their legal duty to provide shelter. Charities say homelessness is increasing because housing benefit caps mean families cannot cover rising rents charged by private landlords.
They are evicted or have to leave their homes, and councils have to spend more on putting them up in hotels and bed-and-breakfast accommodation, sometimes for long stays.
The FoI figures show that between 2010/11 and 2013/14, Westminster council almost doubled expenditure on temporary accommodation, to £40.25 million, and the number of homeless households rose by almost 500 to 2,366.
Charity Z2K said among those evicted was a cleaner, his disabled wife and their children, who had to leave their Queen’s Park flat after their housing benefit was cut. They were put in a B&B. Westminster also spent £475 a night on a two-bedroom suite for another family. Among other boroughs:
Lambeth paid just over £130,000 for eight families to live in hotels in 2010. Last year it paid more than £7.8 million for 355 homeless families.
Hillingdon said that in a “buoyant” rental market, its spending on hotels and B&Bs rose from just over £415,000 in 2010 to nearly £1.7 million.
Spending by Greenwich on emergency overnight accommodation almost tripled from £550,764 in 2010 to £1,495,596 last year.
Newham slashed expenditure on hotels from nearly £1.6 million in 2010 to just over £640,000 this year, despite an increase in homeless households.
Last month, a group of single mothers forced out of the Focus E15 hostel in Newham occupied homes on the condemned Carpenters Estate in Stratford.
The group, led by Jasmine Stone, agreed yesterday to leave the flats but pledged to continue fighting for affordable housing.
Joanna Kennedy, of Z2K, said: “These figures reveal how counterproductive the housing benefit cap has been.” Communities Minister Kris Hopkins said: “The law is clear that the accommodation should be used only in an emergency, and then for no longer than six weeks.”
A London Councils spokesman said: “Boroughs are digging into very stretched resources to deal with the sharp-end of the escalating housing crisis, which, alongside government welfare changes, is creating a double whammy for many Londoners.
“Boroughs are working flat out to find suitable accommodation for people and reduce the numbers in temporary accommodation, but in the face of the sheer scale of the housing shortage, need real support from government to manage this.”