Letters: Let owners pay for B&B hostel improvements

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One reader has an idea to improve hostel B&Bs

Over the last few months your newspaper has published several stories about the appalling conditions in the bed and breakfast establishments used to provide temporary accommodation for many of those who become homeless.

The council’s Homelessness Taskforce has reported this week. It recommends that the council spend nearly half a million pounds upgrading some of these establishments to improve facilities.

Why is the council expected to foot this bill and not the property owners? Many of these B&B providers have received very substantial sums from the public purse for years.

The contract entered into in 2015 is paying out over £5m a year to around ten establishments, with one bidder receiving £3m per year. But this isn’t the end of the story, since the number of beds in use is now at 650 per night rather than the 400 anticipated in the contract and these additional beds cost more. Some of the same providers will be doing both.

This is not a new problem, there have been several council reports over the years, with campaigns run for improved standards.

Since providers receive very large sums of public money why should they not pay for the improvements? If it makes it easier for them, the cost could be substrates from their payments over a period of time.

In the end, of course, all B&B is just a sticking plaster for a major problem, but until there is more investment in properly affordable housing it appears to be an evil that is not only with us but is growing in extent.

Earlier this year councillors were informed that on an average night 44 families with children were in B&B accommodation. This week’s report tells us that this has risen to 75.

Since regulations require such families to be in such places for no more than seven days, I presume all get moved on to other forms of temporary accommodation, but the demand is clearly rising.

Sheila Gilmore, St Catherine’s Place, Edinburgh