Sign up to our Editors Choice newsletter now! Click here

'Thousands will be forced out of London by welfare reforms'

Accessibility Menu

Menu Search

24dash - The UK's most up-to-date social housing and public sector news website

'Thousands will be forced out of London by welfare reforms'

24DASH.COM Logo

Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Local Government

'Thousands will be forced out of London by welfare reforms' 'Thousands will be forced out of London by welfare reforms'

New research examining the effects of April 2013's welfare reforms concludes that councils will be forced to send thousands of families outside of London.

The report, carried out by Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and Lasa, a welfare rights charity, found that government impact assessments are predicting that 124,480 London households will be affected by cuts to the Local Housing Allowance, the introduction of the benefit cap and under occupation penalties.

Based on interviews with council officers and advice agencies, “Between a rock and a hard place: the early impacts of welfare reform on London” found that many local authorities are actively considering procuring accommodation outside the city. However, some fear legal action as a result of such a move.

Alternatively, those interviewed believe that making up families' rent shortfalls will leave councils with holes in their budgets, which the additional money for discretionary housing payments is inadequate to fill.

The welfare changes are intended to reduce expenditure on housing benefit, in part by driving down rent levels, but the report finds that there is no sign that rent levels in London are falling, and local authorities predict that as housing benefit expenditure falls, their costs will rise.

Councils are also predicting a rise in overcrowding as families desperate to remain in the capital move into inadequately sized or poor quality accommodation to keep up with their rent.

Alison Garnham, CPAG CEO, said: “Families are facing the impossible situation of being told to move to cheaper accommodation that just doesn’t exist with London’s rising rents. London Boroughs are staring at a black hole in their budgets as a result, with costs transferred from central to local government. It’s not right that children are left paying the price for London’s housing crisis, which they did nothing to create. There’s still time for Government to do the sensible thing and think again when these reforms are debated in Parliament on Tuesday before thousands of London’s families find themselves uprooted, overcrowded and thrown into turmoil.”

According to the report, it is widely thought that the problems should be met with a significant increase in house-building in the city, rather than attempting to manage supply and demand through social security reforms.

Lasa CEO, Terry Stokes, said: “Thousands of Londoners will be adversely affected by these reforms and it’s vital that local authorities and frontline advice services work in harmony to support them through these difficult times. The impacts could undermine employment opportunities, to the detriment of health outcomes, educational attainment and more, none of which makes sense in troubled economic times. We need a coordinated response at a pan-London level if we are to avoid seeing more debt, more homelessness and more problems for low-income Londoners.”

Repsonding to the report, National Housing Federation Assistant Director for London, South East and East, Kate Dodsworth, said: "Moving people away from their families, schools and communities because their local council cannot house them is a desperate move which demonstrates the scale of the housing crisis.

“London is now a world-class city with third-class housing. Private rents are rising, as is homelessness, and one in nine households is now on the waiting list for social housing. Our own figures show that more and more homeless families are being placed in B&Bs.

“The cuts to housing benefit in the private rented sector have hit London particularly hard because its rents are so high, and there are more welfare cuts to come in April 2013. This is making it increasingly difficult for local councils to support people to stay in local homes.

“It all comes down to the fact that we are simply not building enough new homes – in fact, we’re only building half the homes we need to house 36,000 new households forming in the capital each year.

“This is a problem that will not go away unless we take action. The Government and the Mayor must prioritise housing as an issue and work with the housing industry to tackle the crisis. But public support for building the right homes in the right places is also crucial and local people have a part to play. It’s time for us all – politicians, industry and local people – to say yes to homes.”

Comments

Login and comment using one of your accounts...