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Revealed: Council spends more than £750,000 every week on temporary housing for homeless Redbridge families

PUBLISHED: 07:21 21 November 2019 | UPDATED: 07:21 21 November 2019

Redbridge Town Hall. Picture: Ken Mears

Redbridge Town Hall. Picture: Ken Mears

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Redbridge Council spends more than £750,000 every week on temporary accommodation for homeless families, new figures reveal.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures show the council spent £39.5million providing temporary accommodation to homeless households in 2018-19 - £759,100 per week.

This was a 10per cent increase on the previous year, £3.7million more over the year.

Private landlords swallowed the biggest chunk of the cash in Redbridge, with the council handing them £17.8million over the course of the year.

A further £18.9million was spent on emergency accommodation charged via a nightly rate, such as bed and breakfasts, which can be far more expensive than housing rented on a short-term lease.

Farah Hussain, Redbridge Council's cabinet member for housing and homelessness, said: "Rising temporary accommodation costs, along with high rent levels, benefit changes and historically low levels of investment in social housing in Redbridge, means the council is looking at various ways to increase the level of affordable housing in the borough and reduce long waits for social housing.

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"This includes a rolling programme to purchase 300 homes over the next few years and a joint project with other London boroughs to secure accommodation for people in need.

"The council is also directly delivering 600 council houses for local families.

"This housebuilding programme will account for a large part of the council's strategy to build 1,000 affordable by 2022 and means it will become the largest provider of new social homes in the borough.

"This new generation of council houses will provide genuinely affordable permanent accommodation for families on our waiting list, who would otherwise find themselves in temporary accommodation."

Across England, councils spent a combined total of almost £1.1billion on temporary accommodation, an increase of 9pc in just one year.

Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said the figures were a shocking but "entirely preventable consequence" of the country's housing emergency.

She said: "If consecutive governments had built the genuinely affordable social homes that are needed, fewer people would be homeless, and we would not be wasting vast sums on unsuitable temporary accommodation.

"What's even more shameful is that so much of this public money is lining the pockets of unscrupulous private landlords, who can charge desperate councils extortionate rates for grim B&Bs, because there's nowhere else for families to go."

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