Monday, 24 November 2014

Homeless tenants 'will' be forced out of London

Homeless tenants in London will ‘inevitably’ be forced out of the city, a group of MPs has concluded.

A Communities and Local Government select committee report out today on the private rented sector said moving people out of London was the only way councils could mitigate the impact of benefit caps.

Cuts to benefits had left local authorities with too few properties in their boroughs where they could afford to house claimants, the MPs found.

Westminster Council had placed tenants in Bognor Regis and Kent, while Newham Council said any government restriction on where local authorities could place homeless people would be ‘hugely unhelpful’, the report stated.

The MPs called for homeless housholds to be offered a new property in their local area ‘where possible’ but where tenants had to be moved out, information sharing between the two authorities involved and a full discussion with the prospective tenant should be a statutory duty.

‘It nevertheless appears inevitable that councils in areas with high rents, London in particular, will place homeless households outside the area, including in coastal towns,’ the report says.

‘Before any placement, there should be a full discussion with the receiving authority and the prospective tenant and information about the household and its ongoing needs should be shared. The government should consider making this a statutory duty.’

Although, the select committee decided rent controls were not the answer to the ‘acutely high’ rents in London and the south east, and steps should be taken to increase supply.

‘We agree that the most effective way to make rents more affordable would be to increase supply, particularly in those areas where demand is highest,’ the report states.

Build to rent funds could assist in delivering this, the committee said, but the government must ensure it led to more houses being built rather than just speeding up the delivery of homes already in the pipeline.

The build to rent fund was a pot set up by the government following the Montague report, published in August last year, which recommended boosting the supply of private rented sector accommodation. The government initially set out £200 million to stimulate new private rented sector homes and increased this to £1 billion in the Budget earlier this year.

Longer tenancies were also said to be necessary, with an increasing number of families moving into the private rented sector.

The committee said these could be provided within the existing legal structure but recommended stronger powers to evict tenants who fall behind on rent.

‘We need to change the culture, and to find ways to overcome the barriers to longer tenancies being offered,’ the report says. ‘The ability to secure eviction more quickly for non payment of rent will encourage landlords to make properties available on longer tenancies. The government should also set out a quicker means for landlords to gain possession if they can provide proof that they intend to sell the property.’

The committee called on the government to revisit its previous recommendations issued in a report in May last year to address the ‘urgent need to boost supply across all tenures of housing’. These recommendations, in the report Financing of new housing supply were: Large-scale investment from institutions and pension funds; changes to the financing of housing associations, including a new role for the historic grant on their balance sheets; greater financial freedoms for local authorities; and new and innovative models, including a massive expansion of self-build housing

Readers' comments (103)

  • God help us, and I'm not religious!

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  • Joe Halewood

    No sh*t sherlock!

    DWP wrote to 88,840 families in benefit cap with its average £93 per week cut (ie guaranteed eviction and homelessness)

    47% of these are in London = 188,085 households.

    The average household size affected by benefit cap in London is 6 thus meaning up to 1.13 million men woman and children involved in this benefit cleansing and homeless diaspora.

    Figures known and stated within 24 hours of DWP releasing its alleged impact assessment in June 2012 and hence known and discussed here and elsewhere for over a year

    This is now news apparently!!

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  • Gavin Rider

    JH - "The average household size affected by benefit cap in London is 6"

    The AVERAGE???

    I wonder how many of them actually are "local" people at all, and why they think they deserve to live in our capital city at other people's expense.

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  • I'd like to know why the Select Committee decided "rent controls were not the answer". Without rent controls private landlords are in effect receiving generous "benefits" from the government. Here is Wandsworth a small two bedroom flat (i.e. 1.5 bedrooms) costs £290 upwards per week. With wages moving ever downwards and the cut in housing benefit of course London in unaffordable to more and more people. The answer is not to make evictions easier but rents more affordable to more people.

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  • quite right Gavin - given that over 50% of Londoners are foreign born and some cultures with huge numbers of children per family - councils should re-assess their housing policy to exclude foreign citizens from registering in social housing lists, also not pay housing benefits.

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  • Gavin Rider

    "steps should be taken to increase supply".

    We already have a hugely overcrowded capital city with over 5000 people per square km. The majority of people moving into London are foreign. How can we keep accommodating so many migrants in our capital city and build more housing for them without having to expand outwards? If we build on the outskirts where the land for more housing is available homeless families are "forced" out of the centre and people bitch and moan about this amounting to "social
    cleansing".

    None of this makes any sense.

    Stop the migration. Stop migrants from having huge families and expecting the taxpayer to pay for them and to house them.

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  • Chris

    Venk - are you including those East Asians who have bought up large tracts of the West End housing recently, or are you thinking of the earlier waves of Middle Easterners who own housing across Central London, or perhaps you are thinking of those from the Mediterranean areas who not only own the homes that they live in but are a sizeable presence as private Landlords. But perhaps you were simply thinking of the Eastern Europeans who have invested their new-capital wealth by buying London Property. Or then again maybe you are thinking of the many Pan-globals who own of lease property in London whilst working in the financial district. Perhaps you were only thinking of the incomers from Australasia and 'White' Africa, and those from the Balkans living in London and working across the service sector. Or you could even be thinking of those from Polynesia and the Far East working in our caring and health professions, whilst also occupying modest accommodation. You could even be thinking of those from the Americas who are living here whilst working for their multinationals.

    Or perhaps you have your own opinion of what a foreign born UK resident is doing in this country - owning and running their own small business perhaps.

    Just out of interest Venk, when did your family arrive here?

    This outcome was always the prediction - it was termed social cleansing from the outset. Families will be torn apart by this legislation, and who will make the coffee for the new-yuppie residents the housing is being cleared for? Where will the low paid find work in suberbia? What will happen to the innovation that has arisen in the Capital through previous such communities being left to prosper instead of being desclimated?

    We will as a society pay a heavy price for this folly, and all to pay lip service to the Mail munchers and Closet goosesteppers who appear to have the ear of government currently. I'm sure those concerned will be proud of their achievements.

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  • Mike Batt


    I to feel that blaming Johnny Foreigner for our woes is misguided.

    As a sassenach the only foreigners to blame for our current situation are the Scots.

    Brown & Blair.

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  • Migration and immigration is the biggest ‘red heron’ put out by the right wing press to gain political points for certain parties.

    The facts; currently there are 4 working people paying tax for every pensioner by 2020 that drops to 2 per pensioner. What’s this all have to do housing? Because the fact is that most migration and immigration into the UK these people will most likely work and for minimum wage thus pay tax. Cut immigration cut revenue to government which in turn will mean increased austerity or taxes.

    Social cleansing is not the way this country should be heading!

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  • could someone ask the london boroughs to stop sending people to the 'coastal areas' the work thereis very seasonal. and the avalable housing becomes very expensive in the season.
    The north of england has a plentiful supply of very cheap housing. you can buy or rent at very low prices and your benefits go a lot further.
    The Benefit cap at £350 a week is very generous, not many jobs with a pre tax income of £35000 a year, enjoy it while you can. Before they realise and keep it for london, but have a realistic cap of £220 a week for outside the Capital.

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