THE number of homeless people in Herefordshire being housed in budget hotels has surged in the last 18 months.

Between the start of July and the end of September this year, the most recent period for which figures area available, the county council spent £101,571 on temporary accommodation in Travelodges, of which there are two in Hereford, and £26,952 on Premier Inns, of which there are three in the county.

The total sum spent on such accommodation, £128,913, was over five times more than the £24,550 spent between April and June 2022, the start of the previous financial year. The figure has risen steadily since (see graph).

A Herefordshire Council spokesperson explained: “We have had to use hotels (Travelodge and Premier Inn) a lot more because of the pressure on our TA [temporary accommodation] portfolio due to an increase in homeless approaches, lack of affordable private sector housing, demand outweighing supply for social housing, [and] our response to Ukraine and Afghanistan.”

She added that, thanks to government funding, properties to house refugees from these countries “should be coming through soon, so should alleviate the pressure on our portfolio”.

Officers are meanwhile “working to procure more properties to be used as TA so this should also help reduce our use of Travelodge and Premier Inns”.

A spokesperson for Travelodge said: “We have been working with the local authority in Herefordshire to provide short-term accommodation.

“All parties understand that this is a temporary arrangement until the local authority can find a more permanent solution.”

Premier Inn’s owner Whitbread was also approached for comment.

Herefordshire Council confirmed this week it has awarded a contract worth up to £370,000 to Daniel Wharton, General Builder, to refurbish and furnish up to 50 homes in the county for Afghan and Ukrainian refugees through government resettlement schemes.