A LONDON borough is housing homeless people in Thurrock behind the backs of the council, a Gazette probe has discovered.

Newham Council confirmed it placed 26 families or individuals across Thurrock where it has agreements with 11 private sector landlords.

It has been a long-term rumour overcrowded London councils were moving people on their housing lists into cheaper accommodation in Essex, but Newham’s response is the FIRST admission it has been going on.

It blamed the government’s housing benefits cap, which limits a single mother or couple’s annual income to £26,000 a year, for an increased pressure to move people out as their high London rents can no longer be met by the taxpayer.

It insisted Thurrock Council was notified in writing of each placement.

But furious Thurrock bosses said the Gazette had alerted them to the issue and maintained they had been oblivious to any Newham tenants being housed here.

A council spokesman said it had no idea of this or the wider extent of the problem.

He said: “We cannot confirm any figures but believe some people are being re-housed from London in private rented accommodation in Thurrock without the local authority informing us.

“We are becoming increasingly concerned at reports of rising placements outside London and we plan to remind all London authorities that they should be discussing any such placements with the host borough.

“After those discussions we will consider whether we need to review the implications for our housing plans and local people.”

Newham is working with eight other landlords in Southend and Basildon where it has housed ten individuals or families.

It warned it will have to send more people into Essex as London boroughs try to shift their own housing crises within the capital.

A spokeswoman said Newham, along with other councils, is experiencing a housing crisis - simple as that. She said: “Following the Government's changes to the benefits policy, our private rented sector has been put under increased pressure and this has restricted the number of properties available for us to house homeless families."