Southend is “picking up the tab” for other local authorities’ homelessness problems without warning, an MP has told the government as she called for support.

It was revealed last month that Southend Council was working with an investigative reporter to pinpoint the number of homeless people being brought into the city by London boroughs. The number is feared to be “in the hundreds”.

Anna Firth, MP for Southend West, told members in the House of Commons that local authorities were placing people in the city without telling the council, due to “an abundance” of cheaper accommodation.

In the debate on rough sleeping and homelessness, she said: “Our city is picking up the tab for social care, education, and long term housing when other local authorities are not informing our city council that they are placing people in the city.

“Under section 208 of the Housing Act 1996, all local authorities should give prior notice when placing people for homelessness within 14 days.”

Ms Firth urged Felicity Buchan, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Housing, to support her in tackling the issue.

“If a local authority places people into temporary accommodation outside the borough, it should notify the relevant local authority,” Ms Buchan responded.

“I am very happy to assist in getting that message across.”

Southend Council says other councils are increasingly placing their homeless in cheaper areas like Southend, making it harder for the city’s residents to find homes.

Coupled with the cost-of-living crisis, a rise in evictions and the housing needs of asylum seekers and refugees there is a growing pressure on the council in providing housing to those in need, a council report revealed.

Echo: Southend Council says it is facing 'growing pressure' to house people in need.Southend Council says it is facing 'growing pressure' to house people in need. (Image: Newsquest)

Speaking after the Commons debate, Ms Firth said: “It is absolutely ridiculous that we have a situation where other local authorities are treating Southend as a dumping ground and putting further pressure on local finances instead of paying to house their own residents locally.

"Southend is a hugely welcoming city, but our resources are not unlimited, we cannot be expected to pay to support residents of other local authorities just because they have decided to abandon their duty of care."