UK & World News
'Social Cleansing' Row Over Council Houses
A London council has come under fire for appealing to housing associations across the country to take some of their families on housing benefit.
Newham Council says it has hundreds of people looking for places to live, partly due to the Government cap on housing allowances.
It has written to more than 1,100 housing associations to ask if they can accommodate some of its citizens in the hope of slashing the queue.
One of the organisations contacted called the approach "social cleansing" and accused the borough of trying to "dump" vulnerable or difficult families onto other regions.
Newham Council offered to pay the Brighter Futures housing association in Stoke-on-Trent 90% of the local housing allowance, plus £60 each week.
It is thought this would save the London borough more than £5,000-a-year for a family living in a three-bedroom house.
Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, said he was not "particularly keen" on the policy but insisted the council had no choice, placing the blame on the Government.
"We have hundreds of people looking for places to stay and the result of Government benefit cuts... mean many more people from wealthier parts of London are looking for places to live and they are just not there," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
"We have written to 1,179 organisations saying could you accommodate some people. We are not looking to push people off to one place but to find the best possible solution for our citizens."
He described the overcrowding as "appalling", citing one property where 38 people - including 16 children - were living.
"With that sort of level of housing need, clearly we have to find another solution. We have one of the poorest areas in the country, we have massive overcrowding," the mayor added.
"The people who are here we are trying to deal with and what happens... the Government then pursue policies that push people out from the centre of London to here."
Housing benefit was capped at £400-a-week for a four-bed house last April as part of wider coalition plans to slash billions from the welfare bill.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps insisted this was still far more than ordinary working families could hope to spend and accused the Labour-controlled council of "playing politics" ahead of local elections.
"Even after all these different benefit reforms, what we are talking about is nearly £21,000 a year being payable to rent through housing benefit - a sum that most people would be amazed about," he said.
"It cannot be right to have people on housing benefit able to live on streets and in homes that hard working people are unable to live in themselves.
"The system is still very generous and Newham is perhaps playing politics."
Mr Shapps said a third of homes in the Newham area, which is the borough of the London Olympics, fall within the cap imposed by the Government.
Newham Council stressed that its appeals related to people, such as the homeless, who are in immediate need rather than those who have been on the waiting list for years.
In a statement, a spokesman said: "We are committed to securing the very best accommodation for our people in tough economic times.
"However, the Government's decision to cap housing benefit payments is exacerbating the problem and making it harder for low-income families to get a roof over their head.
"Newham - along with other London councils - is under significant pressure. We are doing everything we can to ensure we have good quality, affordable housing which is fairly distributed...
"Alongside a number of other London councils, we are also exploring the option of working with housing associations outside the borough to house people with an immediate need in the private sector, when there is no other alternative."
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has previously warned the cap could lead to "Kosovo-style social cleansing" and expressed fears about its impact on the capital.
And last summer, it emerged Communities Secretary Eric Pickles had warned that it could lead to tens of thousands of families losing their homes.
Following the row, it emerged Westminster Council currently has 13 families living outside London and is looking to expand this with Nottingham and Derby potential locations.
Its director of housing, worklessness and regeneration, Ben Denton, said: "As hard working families are squeezed out of the housing market and with the demand for social housing vastly outstripping supply, the council is looking at providing fair and realistic options for applicants wishing to live in central London.
"To address this rising demand we and many other London local authorities are looking at temporary housing alternatives outside of the city both in neighbouring boroughs and elsewhere, particularly for those applicants with minimal connections to Westminster."
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what do you think?
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"Newham" say's it all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Did that it's amazing the ammount of people coming into the country and the borders are still allowing people in! A small taste of what it says: Net immigration quadrupled to nearly 200,000 a year between 1997 and 2009. In 2010 it was 252,000. Over 3 million immigrants have arrived since 1997. Migrants arrive almost every minute; they leave at just over half that rate. We must build a new home every seven minutes for new migrants. England is already, with the Netherlands, the most crowded country in Europe The population of the UK will grow by over 7 million to 70 million in the next 16 years, 5 million due to immigration - that is 5 times the population of Birmingham. To keep the population of the UK, now 62.3 million, below 70 million, net immigration must be reduced to around 40,000 a year. It would then peak in mid century at about 68 million
well when you look at it in Newcastle under lyme you have a group called Aspire housing they knock 200 houses down put 150 on the market for home buyers 25 for rent and buy and 25 to rent. That is where the goverment is going wrong they have knock down or redone the council propertys and the people who lived in them they have moved because there is not enough rented propertys. These groups are in it for the money and not the people who live in these areas
I hope the goverment are walking about with their heads bowed in shame. We can give 10 billion to prop up Europe and yet we can not look after our own. Roll on the next election perhaps we can topple this nast bunch in governement
Yeah that will be just great. Get Labour back in, then we can sit back and watch them pay those that do not want to work even more just to secure a voting base, that along with more deliberate uncontrolled immigration is just what the overcrowded, tinder-box UK needs right now!
This only shows what a shower of incompetents have been running this country and local government over the years. Surely the answer is to STOP all immigration from anywhere and start kicking out the illegals. No, I'm not a racist, just someone who is totally frustrated by seeing immigrants with kids in tow going to the top of housing lists whilst our own people live on the streets. After all, most immigrants made themselves homeless in the first place.
Thank Blair's nu-labour. Awful people.
this on top of the post the other day which said that half of all social housing is going to immigrants. White people in this country are being racially descriminated upon by local councils in social housing in favour of immigrants
Yes you're correct. This is the legacy of Blair's Nu-Labour deliberate social-engineering of the UK from 1997-2010 by way of deliberate uncontrolled immigration. All those that are chopsing that they want Labour back in obviously feel that we could do with a few more million people in the UK.
Windows Live User
Disgraceful shoving them around the country Keep them were they belong and where they know
What, even if their rent is over the £400/week cap on state-paid rent? So it's ok for families that have NO intention of getting a job but EVERY intention of producing more lazy people like themselves to live cheek-by-jowel with those that graft every hour God sends to pay the mortgage and bills? You should get out of life what you put into it, it's nature's way. There should be no reward for sloth but every incentive to work hard and behave one's self properly.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. County's all over England have been begging the Government to face up to the fact that membership of the EU, and the unbearable demands that immigration levels are putting on their resources, is crippling them. Trouble is the Cabinet is full of 'New' faces, all inexperienced, all desperate to please Cameron and quarantee their political futures. So all the pleas are ignored because 'Sir' wouldn't like it. Nothing short of a social revolution to force a referendum on the EU will achieve anything. I am shocked by the total disregard for the British peoples welfare shown by a man I voted for, but now see as a clown.
You've saved me the trouble of listing my own comment because I was going to say the same as you. I fully endorse and completely agree.
Just a small point I'd like to add to the swelling comments. This is not gerrymandering for political expediency; this is because of a failed immigration system that has gone unchecked since 'New Labour' thought it was a good idea to have mass net-immigration. Blinded in the belief it would solve all the so-called skill shortages and increase growth. Completely wrong, indeed the exact opposite has been the result in an ill-conceived policy.
Well said Mac, shame there's so many blinkered Labour maniacs out there.
New Labour didn't think it was good for the country to have mass immigration. It was good for the Labour party guaranteeing votes for generations to come.
I'll try again. Labour wanted mass immigration because it's good for the Labour party !
Well said Ray, obviously you offended some people with your comment (due to it being voted down), luckily for us they're the very people that deserve to be VERY offended by decent, working, English, law abiding people.
The Goverment have made the housing associations raise thier rents to be more in line with the private sector so where will we be when housing associations rent are the same as the private sector, no benefit to help the poor just homelessness. Perhaps all those who have to move because of the cuts should decend upon oxfordshire.
or even an independent Scotland?
Stoke? are the BNP rather strong there?
Sorry my working class friends - Sir Robin? - and he got his knighthood from? for what?
This is the east of London. My London. And Boris says what? Go back to Marlow Boris!
Nu-Labour caused this awful mess. Tony "things can only get better" Blair, from 1997-2010 deliberately foisted uncontrolled immigration onto the UK. One reason for this was that these new arrivals would all vote Labour as soon as they beacome UK citizens (you don't bite the hand that feeds you do you?) Secondly, he reasoned that the new arrivals would do all the low-paid jobs, whilst he raised benefit payments to the long-term unemployed, thereby creating a completely helpless, state-sponsored underclass that is incapapble of anything except producing babies and spending money on things they don't deserve (I-phones, Cars, 50" TV's, holidays, ect). These ungrateful Jezza Kyle-class are all Labour supporters and always will be.
Damned disgrace we live in one of the richest country's on the planet and yet we have this and last night news was high-lighting the growing need for food parcels for those on benefits etc. People are not living cushy as our media would like to have us all believe. When did the war against poverty become a war against the poor?
Vote Labour to keep our population soaring and our welfare state burgeoning out of control. Vote Labour if you're quite happy to see families on benefits that have contributed NOTHING but several babies to the country, enjoying a better standard of living with more disposable income than low-middle earners who get out of bed and WORK every day. Vote Labour if you want to graft your fingers to the bone paying for your nice home whilst they move a huge family who've never worked (and never intend on working) next door to you, courtesy of YOUR taxes. Vote Labour if you're happy with criminals and terrorists being protected by the EU human rights act (Blair's legacy) whilst our rights count for nothing.