Westminster Council has paid £283,882 in compensation to 191 homeless families who were illegally kept in bed and breakfast accommodation for more than 6 weeks. However, more half of the families affected by Westminster’s illegal actions have yet to receive a penny.
The Conservative-run council broke the law by keeping more than 400 families and pregnant women in B&Bs for more than six weeks between 2011 – 2013.
A Local Government Ombudsman report in September 2013 found ‘maladministration causing injustice’ by Westminster Council, and recommended that the Council 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. The average payment, so far, is £1,486.
In a Cabinet report to a meeting on 14 October 2013, Westminster Council estimated costs of up to £555,000 – half the amount paid so far. The compensation payments are paid out of the Council’s £35 million temporary accommodation budget, which was overspent by £3.5 million in 2014/15.
The Council claim they have written to all the households affected but only half have received any compensation.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group, said:
“The Council knows where the families are living and should have made contacting them a top priority after it had been found guilty of breaking the law in so many cases. The Council should be doing a lot more to contact those families to whom it owes money and explain how they can claim what is rightfully theirs. Most of these families have very little spare cash and would find the £1,500 compensation payment very useful to pay for children’s clothes, food and other everyday necessities”