Homeless people from outside of Slough are being housed in the town because London councils cannot afford to pay their own high rates of rent.

The problem, known as the London impact, was discussed at a neighbourhoods and community services scrutiny panel meeting last week as it tried to find a potential solution to the growing number of homeless people housed in Slough originally from areas of London.

London councils house homeless people from their boroughs in Slough because the rent is cheaper, but after two years responsibility is transferred to Slough Borough Council which then has to foot the bill for their rent, causing significant strain on the budget.

Recent figures detailed in a council report suggest that as many as 25 per cent of homeless households in Slough come from outside of the town.

The report also showed that since September 2016 318 homeless households were placed in Slough. However, this information is not considered reliable because it is the responsibility of local authorities to notify the receiving borough of these arrangements, and the figures are ‘vastly under-reported’.

Further financial strain comes from the fact that, in order to be eligible for social housing in Slough, a person has to have been resident in the town for five years. Meaning there is a period of up to three years when the council has to pay higher private rental rates to house homeless people from London boroughs before it can move them to more affordable social housing.

There is also the risk that, after those two years, those people have to return to the streets.

Councillor Ted Plenty, chairman of the neighbourhoods and community services scrutiny panel described it as a ‘big problem’.

He said: “These towns have their own homeless problems and they are thinking ‘where can we house these people?’ because rent in London is expensive.

“After two years they become our problem and it places a huge strain on our council budget and on our resources.

“We have to put them in private accomodation because they aren’t eligible for council housing and we have so many people, more than we can deal with.”

The problem is made worse by the fact the number of homeless households in Slough has increased by 62 per cent in just six months, up from 506 households to 810 in September 2018.

Slough has been given a government grant to help house rough sleepers, estimated to be around £250,000 and the council is hoping to apply for a similar grant again.

Better homelessness relief provision, increasing the supply of new-build council homes and finding more affordable accommodation outside of the borough have all been put forward as a number of potential solutions to help alleviate the problem in the council’s 2018-2023 draft homeless prevention strategy.