The trend of sending homeless people out of the capital and into the home counties has been criticised by all of the council leaders in Essex.

Councils across the country bought homeless people 6,810 travel tickets since 2015 in a bid to get them to leave the area.

The Greater London area accounted for the majority of tickets purchased, with 4,159.

Although a third of these were to destinations outside of the UK, many were closer to home including to counties such as Essex.

In response Essex council leaders raised issues including a lack of communication between London authorities and Essex councils, families being placed in inadequate housing and the impact on local services in a letter sent to London's mayors.

They also warned of cases where families have been moved far away from support networks such as friends, family and jobs, meaning their situation can actually worsen.

Cllr Syd Stavrou, Portfolio holder for Housing at Epping Forest District Council, said: “Sending homeless people to Essex might solve the immediate problem for the London Boroughs but it is not the best answer.

"Apart from the disruption it causes for councils managing their own homeless families in Essex, it is far better for people from London to stay in London as close as possible to their support networks of schools, work, family and friends.

“We would like to see the London Boroughs addressing the situation within their own area to avoid impacting Essex Councils in this way.”

Neil Stock OBE, Leader of Tendring District Council and chairman of the Essex Leaders and Chief Executives Group, said the actions of some of the London Boroughs had been despicable.

He said: “We understand why people want to come to Essex, which is a fantastic place in which to live, work and visit, and we don’t want to stop people moving to the county.

“However, this needs to be in the right way and because people want to move here, not because they are being forced to or financially encouraged to by their London council as a way of removing a problem.

“So far efforts by individual Essex councils to draw this to the attention of London Boroughs and the Mayor of London have largely been ignored, which is why as a group of leaders we have taken the decision to send this letter.

“We now hope that those in power in London will sit up and take notice, and work constructively with us to resolve these issues.”