Croydon pleads for rethink on housing benefit caps as legal action looms
Published by 24publishing for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Local Government
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A London borough facing legal action for leaving homeless families in B&Bs for over the statutory six-week period has called on the Government to rethink housing benefit caps.
Last week, the BBC's Newsnight revealed how Croydon Council had spent more than £1.5m on one hotel alone this year to accommodate homeless families. The programme revealed how one housing lawyer is threatening it with legal action in a bid to force it to move families out of overcrowded and dangerous B&Bs.
However, Croydon says caps to the local housing allowance - of between £250 for a one-bedroom flat and £400 for a four-bedroom property - is pricing families on benefits outside the private rented sector.
That, and the fact many people are unable to get a mortgage and onto the housing ladder means the availability of private rented stock available to the council is dwindling, it argues.
It says the amount of new private rented accommodation supply available to the council has fallen from 393 homes in 2008/09 to 31 last year.
Councillor Dudley Mead said: “The council acknowledges there is a shortage of housing in the borough and is doing everything it can to find suitable accommodation for the homeless and reduce the financial burden on the taxpayer.
“But introducing caps on local housing allowance rates will mean less private rented accommodation is available to people on benefits, particularly in London.
“Croydon and other London boroughs are a special case. They need help. We should have a regional cap based on specific circumstances.”
He added: “We need the Government to recognise these difficulties and introduce regional capping of the housing allowance to help families and councils in London.”