Councils’ temporary homeless accommodation spending tops £600m in five years

Local authorities in Scotland have paid out more than £600 million on housing homeless people in temporary accommodation such as B&Bs, hotels and hostels during the last five years, according to a new investigation.

Freedom of Information requests to all of Scotland’s councils by investigations platform The Ferret has revealed a total spend of around £660m between 2012 and 2017.

Almost a third of this total (over £210m) was spent by councils on private accommodation providers, including B&Bs and hotels run by private companies and flats owned by private landlords, with some of the costs recouped through housing benefit.

The City of Edinburgh Council paid out the most, with figures recording a total of almost £192m. Payments to private providers totalled just over £145m. This included substantial payments to private companies and landlords.

One company received at least £16.8m over the five years. The local authority said it was facing “enormous challenges” due to escalating housing costs.

Glasgow recorded the second biggest figure with a total of £126m.

It spent over £10m on hotel and B&B provision in the period. North Lanarkshire, Fife and Aberdeen City were also amongst the top five in terms of spend.

Some local authorities were heavily reliant on private providers. Highland Council paid out a total of just over £18m, £17m of which went to private providers. The council said that this was due to its unique geography and infrastructure.

Charities have condemned the practice and say the figures illustrate a “broken system” which needs more investment.

Jon Sparkes, chair of the Scottish Government’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, and chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, said: “We need to make sure that public money is being used as effectively as possible.

“Clearly funding landlords to provide poor quality accommodation in the private sector is not good for the people housed there or for the public purse.”

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, added: “Successive governments in London and Edinburgh have failed to fix our broken housing system.”

Tags: homelessness

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