As police and fire stations are being closed down to save money, the Westminster council is grossly spending the taxpayers’ money to put homeless families in expensive guesthouses, hotels and B&Bs.
In April 2012 housing minister Grant Shapps already called the council's attention by writing to council leader Philippa Roe. In his letter he offered assistance to reduce the number of families living in B&Bs for more than 6 weeks. However, despite the clear warning, the council has not done anything to resolve the issue and rather spent more money on housing accommodations instead of reducing the amount of money they are spending on other things that might not be needed.
According to Labour opposition leader Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, the council is spending £22,500 to send families to the Central Park Hotel, Hyde Park, £85,000 to West End hotels and more than £17,000 to the Copthorne Tara Hotel in Kensington which amounts to roughly £145,000 a week. Annually, the council is spending £7.5million to house 171 families who can no longer afford to rent homes because of changes made on housing benefits. What's more is that the council is paying two or three times more than the normal rate.
He said: "Westminster Council's hotel bills continue to rise as London's housing crisis deepens. Not only is the council breaking the law, but it is now guilty of gross financial incompetence in paying sky-high prices for hotel rooms."
He also questioned why the director of procurement, who has been receiving high salary, has not done anything to resolve the housing issue in the borough.
In response, leader for housing Councillor Jonathan Glanz said that the placement of families in hotels and B&Bs is the last resort for the council. He also blamed the economic downturn and the government's inability to build enough and affordable houses.
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The United Kingdom government was harshly criticized by Syria for being “shallow and immature”, as reported by The Independent on March 2nd, Saturday.