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Local MPs appeal to government to help homeless families holed up in hotels

Homeless families living at Enfield Travelodge are set to soon make way for fans of pop star Beyoncé, reports James Cracknell

Enfield Travelodge and (inset) pop star Beyonce
Enfield Travelodge and (inset) pop star Beyoncé

The borough’s three MPs have urged the government to step in and help homeless families living at Enfield Travelodge – who now face being moved to make way for Beyoncé fans.

Scores of families have been holed up at the hotel on the A10 for weeks or even months because Enfield Council has nowhere else to put them, but now many are set to be moved because Travelodge has been booked instead by people attending Beyoncé’s series of concerts at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium next week.

In many cases, the families will simply be moved to other hotels outside of the borough.

The Dispatch has been reporting on the plight of families living at Enfield Travelodge since March, with some having been living there for several months with small children. In total, 200 Enfield families are currently living in hotels and other bed-and-breakfast accommodation – at a monthly cost to the council of £500,000 – as rising rents and eviction rates push more and more families to declare themselves as homeless with the council.

This week The Guardian also reported that “up to 30” of the families at the Travelodge are due to be moved out imminently – but only so the hotel can be used by concert-goers instead.

In a joint letter sent yesterday (Wednesday 24th) to Secretary of State Michael Gove, Edmonton MP Kate Osamor, Enfield North MP Feryal Clark and Enfield Southgate MP Bambos Charalambous wrote: “We are sure you are, as we are, deeply concerned by these reports.

“In the last quarter of 2022, Enfield had the highest number of repossessions carried out.

“298 households were recorded as at risk of homelessness because they had been served a Section 21 notice in 2021/22, up from 124 in 2020/21.

“Enfield has the highest rate of Section 21 evictions in London.

“These are some of the reasons why families are placed in temporary accommodation housed in hotels in the first place.

“The lack of protection of families in the borough is making the homelessness crises in Enfield worse.

“There is also simply not enough suitable housing in the borough. Indeed, government ministers have intervened to stop house building in Enfield.

“And now, vulnerable families are at risk of being moved away from their families, jobs, education, and community, many with no time or means to travel back to Enfield when they would need to.”

The letter says the MPs are “concerned” that Gove’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has “no plan” to support the families affected and asks the cabinet minister: “We would be grateful if you could set out any plans you have to intervene in the current crisis in Enfield” as well as the wider crisis of families living in hotels for extended periods of time.

The Dispatch has contacted the department for a response but has yet to receive one.

An Enfield Council spokesperson explained that the situation with families being moved had arisen because the Travelodge booking system “does not allow for long-term reservation of rooms” and that regular re-bookings have to be made.

They said: “We will continue to work closely with Travelodge and other hotels to find suitable, affordable accommodation. Council officers are visiting families to explain the options available to them and if direct contact cannot be made we are writing to them to outline next steps.

“This situation exemplifies the deteriorating state of housing in London and the collapse of the private rental sector. There simply are not enough appropriate properties available. The latest government statistics on homelessness in England show 101,300 households live in temporary accommodation – the highest figure since 2005.

“And across London, the number of families living in B&B and hotel accommodation for longer than six weeks increased an alarming 823% between February 2022 and February 2023.

“We will continue to assist people to move with practical solutions and our lobbying of the government to urgently address the rental and housing crises will intensify.”

Amid an “explosion” in the number of people being put at risk of homelessness in the borough, the council says it is now handling more than 400 requests per month.

There are 3,100 Enfield families living in temporary accommodation, one of the highest rates in the country. While the council uses 2,000 homes in the private rented sector locally to house people, far more homes in the borough are used by other councils and government departments.

Update (26th May):

A DLUHC spokesperson said: “We know this will be distressing and we urge the council to do everything they can to minimise disruption for those affected.

“Temporary accommodation is always a last resort and councils must ensure it is suitable for families who have a right to appeal if they think it does not meet their needs.

“We are determined to reduce the need for temporary accommodation by preventing homelessness before it occurs. That’s why we are giving councils £1bn over three years, to help them prevent and tackle homelessness targeted in areas where it is needed most.”