GreenwichNews

‘Never seen it this bad’: Council spends £800K in one month housing people in Travelodges

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter

A council has revealed it spent £800,000 in a month on putting people in need of emergency accommodation in Travelodges.

Greenwich council is experiencing record numbers of households in need of emergency accommodation, a new report has found.

Council documents for a cabinet meeting on October 18 show that at the end of June the authority was responsible for 1,880 households in temporary accommodation, the highest the council has ever seen.

This represented a 13.5 per cent increase when compared to last year, with more than 200 of these households in hotels.

The trend means the authority predicts an overspend of more than £11million due to emergency overnight accommodation costs.

Council officers said in their report that the council had seen an “unprecedented and unforeseeable” rise in expensive forms of temporary accommodation, claiming 125 families were living in bed and breakfast hotels (B&Bs) at the end of June this year, with over half of them being there for over six weeks. Officers added that only 12 families were living in B&Bs at the end of June 2022.

The report said that the council had spent £1million on placing 950 households in emergency accommodation in non-chain hotels.

It said the council has purchased more than 550 homes since 2017 in an effort to potentially eliminate its reliance on Travelodge, with the average cost per night being cited as £120.

Claire Tugwell, who works at the housing team in the council, said at a planning committee meeting on September 12 that the authority was in great need of suitable housing.

She said: “I’ve worked in housing in Greenwich for 20 years and I’ve never seen it this bad, this bleak. It’s really a struggle every day for us to find quality, safe, secure accommodation for the people that are coming and needing our service.”

The “fierce competition” between London boroughs to accommodate homeless households was cited as another pressure in the report. Officers said an agreement that councils were now outbidding each other to secure non-chain hotel bookings in other boroughs, breaching a London-wide agreement.

Officers said in the report that £3million of additional funding had been set aside to address the inflationary cost pressures of emergency accommodation.

They added that across 29 London councils, the number of families living in B&Bs between April 2022 and this year had increased from 146 to 1,287. The projected overspend on temporary accommodation in the Greenwich borough will be discussed at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Pictured top: Travelodge in Woolwich, as seen on Powis Street (Picture: Google Earth)

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