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100 families living in Westminster B&Bs
Westminster Council has left 100 families with children living in bed and breakfasts for more than six weeks - breaching government guidelines.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps has written to the council asking for the issue to be resolved after the council announced in April that there were 36 families in temporary accommodation. The figure has almost tripled since then.
The government states that B&Bs should be a last resort for authorities, and when they do have to be used, it should not be for more than six weeks.
Opposition Labour councillors in Westminster also say that many families are staying miles from their children's schools, leaving them with long journeys and extra travel costs.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of the Labour Group, said: "Westminster Council is breaking the law by continuing to house families with children in B&B accommodation for more than six weeks.
"The situation is getting worse rather than better, with almost three times as many families in B&Bs than there were in April when Mr Shapps 'read the riot act' to the leader of Westminster Council.
"This problem is a financial and social disaster and is entirely the making of the Conservatives who are responsible for the damaging cuts to the London Housing Allowance levels which has caused this housing crisis.
"It is now time for Mr Shapps to take action to ensure that Westminster Council houses families with children in proper accommodation."
While admitting the high number of families left in temporary homes, the council said it is working on increasing affordable housing in the borough.
Councillor Jonathan Glanz, head of housing and property, said: "Reducing the use of bed and breakfast accommodation is a priority. However, the current demand for housing is outstripping the available supply and our ability to lease larger self-contained accommodation within the current temporary accommodation regime is limited and this is leading to increased use of bed and breakfast accommodation.
"We have ambitious plans in place to increase in and close-to borough supply, but we need to work with central government to find a way forward on longer-term temporary accommodation funding, and to establish some updated guidance to allow us to effectively plan our commissioning strategies.
"We are committed to increasing levels of affordable housing in the borough and supporting our residents into work."
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