London boroughs are to fast-track the introduction of a ‘rehousing protocol’ to inform regional authorities when residents are moved outside the capital.
The pledge to “escalate” the new rules comes after England’s largest local authority landlord warned that the £26,000 benefit cap, which will be rolled out from July, would create a spike in placements outside London.
Stephen Hughes, chief executive of Birmingham City Council, said the cap would “make it more difficult for London authorities in particular to meet their housing obligations in an affordable way”. It was “inevitable” that boroughs would increasingly place people outside the capital, he said.
Official figures suggest the cap will hit 56,000 households, almost half of which are in Greater London. On average, families will lose £93 per week.
The protocol is being drawn up by London Councils and the LGA and is expected to include a duty to inform receiving authorities about placements and to share data on market rent levels. One London Councils source said the agreement would be “escalated” in the next few weeks.
LGC research has already identified several London boroughs planning to move residents outside the capital.
Harrow LBC has placed 37 households outside London in the past 12 months; Waltham Forest has 20 households in temporary accommodation outside the capital and Hillingdon LBC has placed eight households in Slough and one in Hertfordshire.
The pledge to accelerate the introduction of the protocol comes amid signs of growing tension between regional authorities and London boroughs.
Thanet DC has resorted to Freedom of Information laws to force the capital’s councils to reveal where they have housed people in its area. Its investigations have already shown that four other London boroughs - Hillingdon, Waltham Forest, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea - have done so.
Kent CC leader Paul Carter (Con) told LGC that he would lobby ministers for a law to prevent boroughs moving families into already struggling areas such as Margate.
“A protocol would be too easy to ignore,” he said.