Shapps hits out at BBC over Newham coverage
Housing minister Grant Shapps has written to the BBC to express his concern over its coverage of Newham Council’s plans to move tenants out of London.
In his correspondence to Helen Boaden, director of news, he says leading with the story on Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday could be causing ‘real alarm and distress to Newham social tenants’.
Mr Shapps also told Ms Boaden he thought the decision was ‘politically questionable’ with local and mayoral elections next week.
The story was about Newham writing to a housing association in Stoke-on-Trent asking if it would help house families on its waiting list. The council said government cuts to housing benefit were partly to blame for its inability to find suitable accommodation in its own area. It later emerged Newham had written to 1,179 housing organisations seeking support.
In his letter to the BBC, Mr Shapps writes: ‘This type of one-sided reporting can only serve to undermine the BBC’s reputation for political impartiality and objectivity.’
He complains the government was only informed the item was to be on the early morning Today show at nearly midnight on Monday.
‘At best this episode indicates that the BBC has been hoodwinked by politically driven scaremongering and at worst claims of complicity could be made,’ he writes.
Mr Shapps also asks why Stoke Council was not contacted.