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London boroughs accused of 'cavalier' approach

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A district council has accused London boroughs of “packing off vulnerable residents” to live outside the capital without checking whether they can to afford to live in the area where they are rehoused.

Tendring DC claims that about 10 London local authorities have moved their homeless residents into the area, mostly by making arrangements for their housing with local letting agents.

Paul Price, corporate director at the district, told LGC that in these cases the London boroughs paid rent deposits in advance to landlords in Tendring on behalf of their residents, to help them to move.

However, he said, “very few” of the councils had notified the district of what they were doing.

He said the policy was damaging because in many cases residents that were moved to Tendring found they could not afford to live there.

This is because the benefit cap has already come into force in the area and the district council does not award council tax support to people who have lived in the district for fewer than five years. It also does not allow people to join the waiting list for social housing until they have lived in the area for three years.

In one case, Tendring DC is sending a new resident back to his London borough because he cannot afford to live in the Essex district without council tax support.  

The council’s leader Peter Halliday (Con) said this was not the first case of its kind, adding that it was “cavalier” of councils to treat vulnerable residents in this way.

“Many are moved out with little thought or assessment as to their ability to maintain themselves when they arrive at their destination,” he said.

Mr Price said the council could not tell how many people had been moved out by London boroughs because it only found out about the moves when residents approached its housing or benefits team. These people had often been given the ‘wrong advice’ or had not been told about Tendring DC’s benefits cap or its restrictions on council tax support, he said.

“It is not fair on the vulnerable residents to be treating them in this way,” he said.

He said Tendring DC was keeping a list of people that had been moved out from London boroughs.

LGC reported in June that councils in London were under pressure to reach agreement on a “rehousing protocol” that would apply when families were moved out of London as a result of welfare reforms.

London Councils has not responded to a request to comment.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Roger

    It would be very interesting to produce a map of where the border is between those areas of London that are now unaffordable to the working classes and those those that are, in the surrounding areas.
    This map would then demonstrate the upcoming areas for 'gentrification', as the naves move in to takeover from the have nots and all the posh shops follow them to capitalise on their greater disposable income.
    I don't have a problem with the policy of getting a grip of the out of control welfare system that pays people not to work. However, doing so without ensuring that working class communities can afford to stay in the centre of our large urban areas, is both shortsighted and a form of social cleansing.
    Once you've turned the areas over to the developers and landowners, you'll never get them back for real people to live in. No doubt the lower classes will be permitted back in to service the privileged classes, but they will then have to travel back to their ghettos, until their next shift.
    I'm told Paris is a very good example of where this approach is already clearly evident.

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