Surrey

Spelthorne council buys £2m hotel for homeless people

Harper Hotel, Fordbridge Road Image copyright Google
Image caption The property was listed on Right Move with a guide price of £2.8m

A council in Surrey has bought a hotel for just over £2m to use as temporary accommodation for homeless people.

Spelthorne Borough Council had already been placing homeless people at the Harper Hotel in Ashford, paying the previous owner nightly rental rates.

Councillor Jean Pinkerton said it was important to explore innovative ways to keep housing costs down.

But homeless charity Shelter said the root cause of the "spiralling homelessness crisis" needed addressing.

Currently, there are 74 Spelthorne families living in short-term accommodation, with many placed outside the borough, the council said.

'Significant expense'

Ms Pinkerton said: "[This] can be very disruptive and remove people from their support network.

"Having a fixed number of accommodation units here in Spelthorne will be extremely positive."

In the last financial year, the council said it had spent £484,000 on temporary accommodation.

Ms Pinkerton said: "[This] represents a significant expense, so it's important we continue to explore innovative ways to reduce the costs."

The property will provide a temporary home for up to 20 households once refurbished, the council said.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said with budget cuts and a "spiralling homelessness crisis" councils were under huge amounts of pressure to think of ways to address the problem.

But he added: "Unless the government addresses the root cause of this crisis and starts building homes that people on lower incomes can actually afford to live in, this crisis is only going to get worse.

"In the meantime, it's essential that there is enough support available to protect people from losing their home, and for councils to be properly funded so that they can help people find somewhere to live should the worst happen."

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