Hotelier nets £241k in six months for housing Fenland’s homeless

White Lion, Wisbech

White Lion, Wisbech, whose owners were paid £241,000 by Fenland Council over six months to house homeless people here and at two other properties they own in Peterborough. - Credit: Archant

A quarter of the £1m Fenland Council spent on putting the homeless up in guest houses or hotels during the pandemic went to one provider.  

Payment data revealed by Fenland Council show that from April to September last year, it paid out £241,475 to Eastfield Guest House Ltd of Peterborough. 

The company owns two guest houses in the city but two years ago acquired the 16-bedroom, 19th century White Lion hotel on South Brink, Wisbech.  

Payments to Eastfield from Fenland Council began last April when £60,330 was paid to them, and there was £63,000 in May, £59,480 in June, £41,175 in July and £16,425 in August. 

Payments to Eastfield dried up in September when only £1,065 was paid out – and nothing has been paid since.  

Fenland Council says the payments to Eastfield Guest House Ltd are for accommodation provided at three different locations. 

Eastfield Guest House Ltd has also been one of the key providers of emergency accommodation for Peterborough City Council.  

Most Read

Records show that since 2014, Peterborough City Council has paid Eastfield in excess of £2.6m to house the homeless.  

Hundreds of payments of smaller amounts have been paid out by Fenland Council and are listed on the council’s public expenditure charts that are obliged to show all payments over £500. 

However, many of these payments are redacted. 

The council says the payments were made to organisations/individual contractors for supplies and services during the pandemic.  

“Names have been redacted due to General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) because they relate to individual rough sleeper clients,” said a council spokesperson. 

The council says that in the 11 months before March 2020, their spend on emergency housing for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness was £31,447. 

“In the 13 months since then, and as a result of the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ directive to help stop the spread of Covid-19, we have spent c£1million,” said the spokesperson. 

“This spend has been met thanks to a variety of funding streams from the Government including the general Covid-19 response funds provided to the council and the Next Steps Accommodation Programme (NSAP).” 

A recent report by Fenland Council says it had provided emergency accommodation to 57 vulnerable residents during the pandemic, who were rough sleeping or at risk of rough sleeping  

“This has come at a significant cost to the council, estimated to be over £1.3million by March 2021,” councillors were told.