Residents force council to halt rehousing scheme
Waltham Forest Council has suspended plans to rehouse people long distances away after a negative reaction from residents.
The council has been offering residents accommodation in 27 units it owns in Walsall, in the west midlands, but has only managed to let six of properties. Other residents who have been offered the homes have turned them down.
At a council meeting last week members agreed to put plans to purchase more units outside the capital on hold, and to try to find more accommodation in east London.
The council will continue to try to let the remaining units in Walsall.
Marie Pye, cabinet member for housing in Waltham Forest, said: ‘The recent acquisition of housing in Walsall, and the experience of referring prospective tenants to these properties, has led the council to review its processes.
‘The council recognises that looking to relocate people to places far removed from the borough and without direct travel links is problematic and accordingly has suspended looking at procuring additional property outside of the capital for the time being.’
In the past Waltham Forest has found accommodation for residents in towns including Luton and Margate. It was one of 12 boroughs to confirm to Inside Housing last month that it was looking to rehouse people outside the capital as a result of a lack of affordable accommodation.
Councils have blamed soaring private sector rents and recently-introduced caps on local housing allowance payments for the lack of suitable properties in London.
Ms Pye stressed these problems remain, despite the change of policy.
‘It is important to recognise that looking to house people outside of London is a genuine attempt by the council to overcome a serious problem with suitable available accommodation in the capital,’ she said. ‘The issues still remain a challenge to the council and the problem is continuing to grow ever more serious.’
A row erupted last month after it emerged Newham Council had written to 1,179 housing associations across England looking for accommodation for up to 500 families.
Housing minister Grant Shapps accused the Labour-led council of ‘playing politics’ ahead of local elections, and promised to issue regulations making it harder for councils to place families in housing outside their local area.