Housing Chief Questions Exporting Housing Needs
Published by Dawn Prentice for Dawn Prentice Communications in Housing and also in Communities, Health
Last week’s revelation that London councils are shipping out housing benefit claimants to the West Midlands to meet their housing needs has been questioned by the Chief Executive of the Trident Social Investment Group, which provides homes to 6,000 people across the Midlands, Since there is lack of social housing for waiting list applicants, Labour Newham and Tory-led Hillingdon, Croydon and Westminster admitted contacting social landlords, mainly in the Midlands, to move applicants out of the capital since they cannot afford to refer them to private landlords because of rapidly rising rents and biting benefit caps introduced by the Government. Many commentators are calling this a social cleansing of London’s poor.
John Morris, Chief Executive of Trident said: ‘The inability of housing policies and funding over three decades to cater for the nation’s housing requirements through sufficient supply of affordable housing is most recently reflected in the 3 per cent fall in construction sector output over the first quarter of 2012. This construction slump is the primary reason for the 0.2 per cent contraction in the economy over all. Yet the answer cannot be to move sometimes desperate and needy people from their communities to other parts of the country which have their own housing crises’.
‘The West Midlands has 184,000 on housing waiting lists and has seen the largest growth in homeless - at 14 per cent - of any English region over the last twelve months. This year, more than 50 per cent of Trident’s lettings have gone to homeless people for the first time in our 50 year history. We appreciate that there are 370,000 waiting for housing in London Borough: 1 in 9 of the population. In Newham, which sought to move 500 families to Stoke-on-Trent, 1 in 3 households are waiting list applicants. But the key issues are a lack of social housing in all regions and application of a national benefit cap when regional approaches would have been fairer. Greater investment in social housing is the key to solving these related problems and would also be good VFM to the tax payer by stimulating economic growth and creating jobs’.