£1m hotel bill spArks row
MP and city council leader argue over homelessness rise
Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson is in a dispute with the leader of Peterborough City Council over the authority’s £1 million hotel bill for homeless families. Councillor John Holdich has sided with council officers in blaming the Government for the large rise in people needing temporary accommodation in one of the city’s three Travelodges.
Cllr Holdich said: “One of these days our MP will accept some responsibility for the actions of his government which led to unintended consequences.”
However, Mr Jackson has fired back on Twitter, accusing his fellow Conservative of misleading the mediato “hide his own shambolic record,” anddescribing himasa“pretty useless” leader.
He added: “I’m not sure I’m that keen to take lectures from the guy who’s presided over the worst primaryschool results in England.”
The Peterborough Telegraph revealed last week that the council was expecting to overspend by £1.2 million in 2016/17 because it hadrunout of hostels and B&Bs to put up homeless families, forcing it to use one of three city Travelodges at a greater cost.
Thecouncil blamedalarge rise in homelessness caused by the Government policy of Universal Credit - which sees housing benefit paid to tenants instead of to landlords - andtaxchangesforlandlords.
Cllr Holdichadded:“Myofficers in my view are 100 per cent right on this. And because of the unintended consequences of the bedroomtax or spare room tax, we have 1,600 people on a waiting list for two bedroom properties.
“Wecan’tputtheminthree bedroom properties because they can’t afford to pay the ad- ditional benefit for the spare room.”
The Government said it is investing over £500 million to tackle homelessness and that it was “misleading” to blame its reforms. North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara said Universal Credit would help people get back into work.
However, Peterborough landlord Azar Hussain said: “I myself, a private landlord who has previously taken on tenants on housing benefit, cannot see myself doing this in the future. There are many landlords nowwhoarechoosing to sell up as a result of new tax regulations.”
A second city landlord, James Fraser, said: “This is being forced on us by a governmentwhichhasproduced bad tax policy and now does not wish to take any responsibility for it.”
Mr Fraser said the MPs were at best “wilfully ignorant” of what effects the Governmentreformswerehaving.