London 'will be as segregated as Paris' after cuts

Nick Clegg reacted with fury yesterday to accusations that ministers were "sociologically cleansing" the poor out of parts of London with planned cuts to housing benefit payments.

A visibly angry Deputy Prime Minister told Chris Bryant, Labour's shadow minister for constitutional reform, that his comments were "outrageous" and "deeply offensive to people who have witnessed ethnic cleansing".

Last night Mr Bryant said he stood by his remarks on the Coalition's plans to cap housing benefit at around £400 a week for a house rented in the private sector. Critics say this will force up to 80,000 families out of London and other major metropolitan areas because they will no longer be able to afford their homes. "Personally I prefer to live in cities which are not ghettos," he added.

During a heated exchange at Deputy Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Bryant said an estimated 200,000 people would be forced out of London and other cities as a result of the Government's "niggardly" proposals. This, he said, would turn London into Paris "with the poor consigned to the outer ring".

He asked Mr Clegg: "Would it not be iniquitous if on top of being socially engineered and sociologically cleansed out of London, the poor were also disenfranchised by your (Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies) Bill? How do you propose to make electoral provision for these displaced people?"

Mr Clegg angrily replied: "To refer to cleansing would be deeply offensive to people who have witnessed ethnic cleansing in other parts of the world. It is an outrageous way of describing..."

Faced with loud retorts from members of the Labour front bench, he went on: "No, I'll tell you exactly what we are doing.

"What we are doing is saying that people who receive housing benefit, it is perfectly reasonable for the Government to say it won't hand out more in housing benefit than people who go out to work, pay their taxes, abide by the rules.

"We are simply suggesting there should be a cap for family homes of four bedrooms of £400 a week. That is £21,000 a year.

"Do you really think it's wrong for people who can't afford to live privately in those areas, that the state should subsidise people to the tune of more than £21,000? I don't think so."

London boroughs told a meeting of MPs last week that councils have already block-booked bed and breakfasts and other private accommodation outside the capital to house those who will be priced out of the London market.

Others have predicted protests on the scale of the poll tax as families are forcibly evicted from houses deemed "too expensive" to live in.

At the weekend Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat deputy leader, warned ministers that three of the proposed seven changes to housing benefit set out in last week's Spending Review were the "wrong ones" and would need to be altered if Lib Dem MPs were to support them.

The include a cut of 10 per cent in housing benefit after one year for those on jobseeker's allowance, the cap on housing benefit for private rented homes, and allowing housing associations to charge rent at close to the full market rate.

Liberal Democrat backbenchers still hope they can force concessions on the Government before detailed proposals are published later this year.

"We don't think this is a red line issue for the Government," said one. "But equally people feel very strongly and if they push ahead there is likely to be a lot of dissent."

A Downing Street spokesman said a maximum of 21,000 people would be affected by the £400 benefit cap, 17,000 of whom live in London. "The numbers [Mr Bryant] has seen bear no relation to reality. We are reforming housing benefit because it needs reform."

France's divided capital

The train ride from Paris' banlieues to the centre of the city takes only 15 minutes. But when the mostly immigrant youths from the suburbs arrive at Les Halles station, the environment they find themselves in is quite different to the one they have left.

For there is decidedly less racial diversity in the centre of Paris than there is in London. That makes for a complicated social picture. Mention the police to the city's immigrant young people, and they will often become angry. Like everyone else in authority, they seem to them to be racist – a perception only heightened by the geographical divide.

Indeed, segregation is almost built-in in France's major cities. Paris' divide is deepened by a motorway separating the centre from the suburbs. What started as a financial discrepancy has created ghettos, and the so-called quartiers chauds: areas where locals, mostly first or second generation immigrants, attack policemen and burn cars.

In a country where psychogeography was invented, academics have long railed against the way French cities shut out the rabble. Even people in the streets call wistfully for Le Corbusier's perfect, interconnected town.

Molly Guinness in Paris

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform