Hotel groups win public contracts despite virus controversies

Travelodge and Britannia Hotels win lucrative work despite evicting homeless guests and firing staff respectively at the start of outbreak

Two hotel chains cast as villains of the coronavirus crisis for evicting homeless guests and firing staff have been awarded public contracts worth more than £1.6m to house vulnerable people during the pandemic.

The contracts are likely to fuel rising concerns over the Government’s high-speed outsourcing of its response to Covid-19.

Britannia Hotels, “Britain’s worst hotel chain” in a Which? poll seven years running, won an £810,000 contract from Camden Council in London on April 2, just days after sparking a backlash when staff at one of its hotels were fired on the spot and ordered to leave their accommodation. It later claimed the sackings happened in error.

Travelodge, owned by a consortium of hedge funds, forced homeless residents out when it shut hotels at the start of the lockdown.

It is being paid £873,000 by Bristol City Council and Camden Council, for similar services, public records show. The chain is in a stand-off with struggling landlords as it seeks to cut its rent bill by more than £140m.

Travelodge’s true income from public contracts is likely to be higher as it is housing key workers and vulnerable groups at 50 of its hotels.

Travelodge said it was working closely with authorities to house emergency workers and vulnerable people.

Britannia Hotels did not respond to a request for comment.

Read more: The hidden costs of the feverish rush to outsource contracts