Purge fails to tackle 'dole hotel' problem, Labour says

A GOVERNMENT clampdown on seaside 'dole' hotels advertising for benefit claimants could have only limited effects, a Labour social security expert warned yesterday.

The latest purge on so-called benefit tourism, announced by John Major through the pages of the Sunday Express and to take effect in April, will force hotels wanting to convert to social-security hostels to get planning permission.

The Government is responding to floods of complaints that coastal towns are suffering disorderly conduct, drug abuse and intimidatory begging. But the planning permission rule, to be officially disclosed today, will not affect hundreds of small hoteliers whose off- season turnover is wholly dependent on a steady supply of housing benefit.

Under the new rule, hotel proprietors seeking a 'change of use' to a hostel will have to apply for planning permission. 'It will let local people decide and I think their views will be pretty crisp,' the Prime Minister said in an interview with the newspaper. Sir Teddy Taylor, one of the seaside Tory MPs who urged Mr Major to plug the loophole, said his Southend constituency had been suffering a 'nightmare' with drug and petty crime problems.

No change of use application can be required, however, from operators of the thousands of hostel beds already created in towns such as Blackpool, Bournemouth, Brighton and Scarborough. The Government plans to tackle existing B & B hostels with a licensing system that would close establishments with poor standards.

Frank Field, Labour MP for Birkenhead and chairman of the Commons social security select committee, said the Government was not tackling the root cause of the problem.

The Thatcher administration limited the amount of time people could draw benefit in certain seaside towns - a return to something approaching the Elizabethan poor law where people were driven on after a few weeks, he told the BBC Radio's The World This Weekend.

'Now what they are trying to do is put up the shutters completely against such people. It won't work.'

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrator

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Administrator

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Infrastructure / Development Support

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunity to join a...

Recruitment Genius: Partnership Relationship Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Partnership Relationship Mana...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore