Waltham Forest council spent more money putting homeless people up in hotels last year than Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Bristol councils combined.

The local authority racked up a £31 million spend on temporary accommodation, with the Westminster the only council stuck with a bigger bill at £45 million.

The figure eclipsed the fees being paid by the councils of some of Britain’s biggest cities and was more than twice the London local authority average of £12 million.

A Waltham Forest council spokesman said: “Expenditure on temporary accommodation by the council has increased in recent years, reaching its highest level in 2015-16.

“This has been largely due to changes to the welfare system, rocketing prices and increased evictions in the private rented sector, and a shortage of available properties.

“This shift coincided with a spike in the cost of using privately owned properties as temporary accommodation. This is an issue across London, not just in Waltham Forest.

“Since that time we have taken concerted action, both to minimise the number of people going into temporary accommodation, and to negotiate down the costs of individual units, and expenditure is projected to reduce in 2016-17.

“We are continuing our efforts to reduce homelessness and looking at new and innovative ways to increase the amount of affordable housing available for our residents.”

Councils across London have spent more than £1.25 billion on temporary accommodation over the past five years.

The average length of time a person stayed in temporary housing across the capital last year stood at 268 days, despite rules which limit councils to using the measures for just 42 days.

The Housing Act allows local authorities to pay to put residents up in a hotel or bed and breakfast while their application for homelessness is investigated.

Applicants can refuse the offer of accommodation given to them by the council, but are then required to house themselves until their paperwork is processed.

Government statistics published last month revealed 73,120 households across England were living in temporary accommodation.

Of that number, close to three quarters were being housed in London.

The number of families with children, or pregnant women placed in “bed and breakfast-style" accommodation jumped from 630 in March 2010 to 3,390 in June 2016.

Waltham Forest council has been contacted for comment.