Sunday, September 19, 2010

“Building London’s Future” (& defending London’s poor & vulnerable)

The proposed Tory/Lib Dems reforms of housing benefit (HB) “will lead to two things - firstly a dramatic increase in homelessness which will result in a shift in London’s population -equal in size to a typical post war new town and secondly - deepening and abject poverty”.  So said the host, MP for Westminster North, Karen Buck MP, in her introduction to a “crisis” housing meeting on Thursday to launch this report by London Labour Party.

The report details David Cameron’s and his London Mayor, Boris Johnson, attempts to “cleanse” the Tory controlled boroughs in the Capital of their poor and the vulnerable by changing housing benefit to private tenants.

To show the seriousness of the situation there was a pretty high profile panel of speakers.  Labour Party Leader Harriot Harman MP, Shadow Secretary of State Yvette Cooper MP, Leader of LB Hammersmith & Fulham Labour Group Cllr Steve Cowan, Shadow Minister of Housing John Healey MP, GLA member and London Labour Party leader Len Duvall and Shadow Minister of London, Tessa Jowell MP.  This was before an audience of Councillors and housing activists from across London.

Despite working in housing in London I must admit to being rather shocked at the report and its conclusions.  I will try and post in more detail on each speaker and on the rest of the report another time (there was a lot of interesting stuff) but I’ll outline now the key thing about HB changes that should have every single person who gives a damn about London (and elsewhere) jumping up and down.

Housing benefit provides a roof over the heads of millions of people.  If these cuts to HB go ahead it will mean:-

Yvette Cooper MP: “One million families will lose £12 per week...50,000 of the poorest pensioners will lose £11 per week...Working families will also lose £12 per week...Disabled residents will lose £13 per week.  These are averages...A pensioner in a one-bed flat in Hackney will lose £21 per week...150,000 households in London will not have enough benefit to cover the rent...A population the size of Hackney could be forced to move to cheaper accommodation.  This is what you get from the £550 million of cuts to HB already announced.  Remember that the CONDEMS want £2.3 billion cuts in HB”. 

From the “Building London’s Future” report: “People in London will face on average £1,000 a year cut in support”....159,370 private sector tenants on Local Housing Allowance (LHA) will lose an average of £22 a week in the first wave of cuts....80% of LHA recipients in London will lose more than £10 a week...990 families in a 2-bed property in Tower Hamlets will lose on average £27 a week...73 families living a 2-bed property in Camden will lose on average £53 a week.

(as soon as I find a link to the report I will update but you can check this government site here to find out what will happen to your local authority)


Anonymous said...

I'm wondering why I wasn't invited?

I see two things happening in the areas I know.

1) there'll be more rent arrars and more evictions.
2) there'll be more rent arrears, but the County Court judges won't evict. Therefore ALMOs, HAs and their staff will be slagged off for the escalating arrears.

John Gray said...

Hi Anon

Perhaps it was eaten by your spam folder? :)

There will be massive increase in evictions in the private sector but I am not sure what impact it will have on public housing because rents are lower.

Chris said...

Link to 'Building London's Future':--