Council paying £26million a year for emergency housing for Redbridge homeless

A staggering £26million was spent on temporary accommodation for homeless residents by Redbridge Council last year – and the figure could rise as the housing crisis deepens.

Figures obtained by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism show £7.7m was spent on B&Bs alone in the 2012/13 financial year and an outlay of more than £9m was predicted for the coming year.

Redbridge residents are put into the accommodation as an emergency when they are deemed homeless.

Families with children, pregnant women and those vulnerable because of age and mental or physical health are given priority.

Although the move is meant to be a temporary measure until suitable social housing is found, people have reported going months without a proper home.

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In February, cancer sufferer Mubashar Ahmad told how he had been living in a cramped room in an Ilford Lane guest house for three months.

The 47-year-old, who undergone five operations for bladder cancer, had to eat off the floor because there was no furniture and shared a bathroom with four people.

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He was among more than 2,000 households – which can include several people – living in limbo waiting for council homes.

There is a huge backlog for social housing in Redbridge, with 12,562 households on the waiting list in October.

Measures are being implemented to cut the list by changing rules to make less people eligible but according to the council website, people can still expect to wait up to seven-and-a-half years for a property.

A council spokesman said each individual placement was counted in the figures, whatever the length of the stay.

Nightly rental accommodation, hostels and leased homes are also used by the council.

Where suitable homes cannot be found in the borough, the council can move families away – including 491 last year.

Many are placed in nearby Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Waltham Forest but homes were also found in Thurrock and Basildon.

Conversely, 1,731 households have also been moved into Redbridge by other councils.

A spokesman said the council could not prevent other authorities sourcing accommodation from the private market in Redbridge.

Cllr Keith Prince, leader of the council, said a committee was working on a new housing strategy.

He added: “We are looking at money we have available to invest in new social housing.”

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