Bexley taxpayers have shelled out nearly £40k in the last two years to private landlords in a bid to encourage them to take in vulnerable homeless families.

Bexley Council has handed out the sweetener payments to landlords through an incentive scheme hoped to combat homelessness.

Landlords are offered cash in exchange for taking on people who were either homeless or considered at risk of homelessness.

The payments, about an average of £2,000 a pop, have been criticised by opposition councillors for leaving taxpayers “footing the bill” for the housing crisis.

An LDR investigation has revealed that a total of 19 payments, three in 2018 and 16 so far this year, have been made at a combined cost of £38k.


Cllr Joe Ferreira, shadow cabinet member for regeneration and growth said: “This is another example of the cost to Bexley taxpayers of the housing crisis caused by the decisions of Conservative councillors.

“While Conservative councillors have consistently refused to support social housing in new developments, the number of Bexley families living in temporary accommodation has soared to around 1,400.

“We have repeatedly asked Bexley Conservatives to update the council’s planning policies and identify ways through the council’s own development company and by working with housing associations to ensure social housing can be urgently delivered.

“Unfortunately, these pleas have been ignored resulting in a human cost to families who find themselves in temporary accommodation and to the tax payer, who are footing the bill to house these families in privately rented accommodation.”

In 2017-18 London councils paid £14m in incentives to private landlords to house homeless people, while just 680 council homes were built, the Guardian reports.

So far, the highest paid cash incentive in Bexley has been £2,000, but moving forward, the council will be offering landlords £8,000 to take a tenant on for at least a two-year period under an assured  shorthold tenancy.



Shelter, one of the UK’s leading housing charities, has previously criticised landlord incentives.

Polly Neate, the chief executive of the charity, told the Guardian earlier this year: “It is ludicrous councils have to resort to handing out cash sweeteners to secure housing for desperate families, when there’s a much more sustainable solution: build social housing on an ambitious scale.”

Bexley Council said housing is a priority and it is taking “new approaches to help fulfil our statutory duty in relation to homelessness”.

A spokesman said: “We have developed several new initiatives to help prevent homelessness and reduce costs to our local taxpayers. Bexley’s landlord incentive scheme ‘Rent it Right’ provides good standard and more stable private rented accommodation for local homeless households.

“The scheme enables us to work in partnership with private landlords to help meet growing housing needs by increasing the supply of affordable rented properties.

“It is a cost effective scheme as it avoids the alternative of using much more expensive temporary housing, which is also less settled accommodation. Tenants have the reassurance that they are renting from a reliable landlord at an affordable rent, that we will regularly monitor.

“We are getting an average of 10 new properties a month as a result of the Rent it Right scheme.”