London council's 'social cleansing' of housing benefit tenants
If the poorest borough in London cant afford to house its lowest paid working classes then what about the rest of the more expensive borough's?
London has a housing shortage that has seen accommodation prices souring and local people not being able to afford to pay the extortionate prices. Many young people have to live 10 to a room whilst those who are eligible for council housing benefits, but do not have council accommodation, have to secure private accommodation with the extremely expensive rents being paid for by the local council.
Newham council and the Government should have invested in building affordable housing at the same time as the Olympics infrastructure when they had enough time and money to sort out the 32,000 waiting list for housing. ......
A London council has been accused of starting "social cleansing" in the capital by asking a Stoke-on-Trent housing association which is 160 miles away to take on up to 500 families on housing benefit.
Newham Council says it can no longer afford to house tenants on its waiting list in private accommodation.
The gap between market rents and the housing allowance is too big, it says.
But the association says such a move could mark the start of "thousands of needy people" being dumped elsewhere.
Newham Council, which is Labour-controlled, is in the east of the city and will host this summer's Olympics.
It has written to the Brighter Futures Housing Association in Stoke, offering it the "opportunity" to lease homes to it.
The letter says the local private rental sector is beginning to "overheat" because of the "onset of the Olympic Games and the buoyant young professionals market".
It says the council can no longer afford to house tenants on its waiting list in private accommodation as the gap between market rents and the local housing allowance has become too great.
The Brighter Futures chief executive officer, Gill Brown, has not formally replied to Newham Council's offer but says she will not agree.
"I think there is a real issue of social cleansing going on," she said.
"We are very anxious about this letter which we believe signals the start of a movement which could see thousands of needy people dumped in Stoke with no proper plan for their support or their welfare.
Newham Council is offering to pay Brighter Futures 90% of the local housing allowance plus £60 per week.
Brighter Futures estimates the scheme could save Newham Council £5,250 a year for a family housed in a three-bedroom home.
The Labour MP for Westminster North, Karen Buck, says Newham Council's offer could be just the tip of the iceberg.
"What is so worrying about the letter from Newham is not that this is Newham Council's fault but if a very poor borough in east London feels itself so desperate that it has to try and find accommodation 160 miles away in Stoke, what is that telling us about demand in the rest of London?".
The rest of the country "certainly doesn't need the difficult-to-house cases London boroughs have had enough of".
"An unplanned influx of Olympic exiles will do us little good," he said.
"The 2012 Games are bringing huge riches into London. The least those boroughs could do is look after their poor and needy.
"We look forward to welcoming the flame from Stratford - but not east London's exiles."
"We know from London Councils that 88,000 households have private rents above the new limits for housing benefit and in theory these families were meant to find new homes in places like Newham.
When the housing benefit cap was announced in 2010, London Mayor Boris Johnson said: "The last thing we want to have in our city is a situation such as Paris where the less well-off are pushed out to the suburbs."
He said he would "not accept any kind of Kosovo-style social cleansing of London".
Brighter Futures is calling on the Local Government Association to draw up a code of conduct for members to ensure that no homeless people are moved without the permission of the council in the new area.
It wants to ensure local councils have assessed whether public services can cope with new arrivals before families are moved.