Report reveals significant rise in homeless and low income families 'socially cleansed' out of London

Homeless families are being moved out and those eligible for free school meals are disappearing

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Indy Politics

There has been a big increase in the number of homeless families shipped out of London by councils who cannot afford to find them homes in the capital, figures show.

The number of families rehoused beyond the city’s outskirts rose 27 per cent in 2014-15 compared to the previous year, according to local authority figures.

Numbers obtained by the magazine Inside Housing this week show the exodus is being driven by increased competition for temporary accommodation in London, especially in eastern boroughs.

London Councils, an umbrella organisation for the capital’s local authorities, last month revealed there had been were 1,653 placements outside the capital in 2014/15 compared to 1,292 in 2013/14 and 637 in 2012/13.

Additional figures reported by the Guardian newspaper show a sharp reduction in families claiming free school meals in the capital, leading to fears many have been pushed out.

Labour London mayoral hopeful Sadiq Khan, who obtained the figures, told the newspaper that the “the Government’s policies on welfare and housing have caused social cleansing in London on a vast scale”.

“Families have been driven out of large parts of the city ... this is not the kind of London I grew up in or want my daughters to live in.”

The Independent revealed in April that over 50,000 families had been silently shipped out of their home London boroughs in the past three years, many outside the capital entirely.

Local authorities have a legal duty to rehouse people who become homeless, but with squeezed budgets and soaring housing costs in the capital this is becoming a more complicated task.

The task has likely been compounded by the Government’s benefits cap, which has cut the amount benefits claimable by one family to £23,000 in London.

 

The trend of moving homeless people into neighbouring boroughs and creating appears to be creating more competition for temporary accommodation.

This in turn forces more placements entirely outside the capital. East London boroughs saw a 65 per cent jump in homeless families in two years.

Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn last month criticised the “social cleansing” of London which he said was being exacerbated by the Government’s welfare cuts and changes.

“In the absence of rent control all that’s happening in central London is that families who access benefits to pay their rent cannot get enough money to pay their rent,” he said in his justification for opposing the Government’s Welfare Bill.

“They’re forced to move away and it’s leading to a social cleansing of much of central London. If we can’t control rents then the very least we can do is keep families together.”

His rival Andy Burnham last night blamed the UK housing crisis on Right To Buy, which he said had undermined the social housing stock.

A spokesperson for the communities department highlighted the Government’s £500m national ‘discretionary housing payment’ programme which it says councils can use to fix the problem.

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