Tuesday, 03 March 2015

Shapps slams plans to move tenants out of London

The housing minister has called plans to move London tenants to other parts of the country because of a lack of housing ‘outrageous’.

Newham Council wrote to 1,179 housing organisations asking them to help house up to 500 tenants from its waiting list because it claims it can no longer afford to house them in private accommodation.

Grant Shapps told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Not only do I think it’s unfair and wrong I’ve also made legislation and guidance that says they’re not to do this.’

He also claimed private rents are falling – ‘they have been lower than inflation for some time,’ he said.

Labour MPs say the decision to seek accommodation outside London is proof that the government’s policy of capping housing benefit is already ‘beginning to unravel’.

According to the BBC, the Newham letter says the local private rental sector is beginning to ‘overheat’ because of the ‘onset of the Olympic Games and the buoyant young professionals market’.

It says the council can no longer afford to house tenants on its waiting list in private accommodation as the gap between market rents and the local housing allowance has become too great.

The council has been ‘forced to look further afield for alternative supply’, it adds.

Sir Robin Wales, mayor of Newham, said: ‘We’ve got a lot of people [on our waiting list] and if we can find a place where people have family or whatever then they can go.

‘We don’t want to do this, but we have to house people somewhere.’

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Readers' comments (38)

  • Yet more deceit from a Crown Minister. What does this useless man think will happen when Universal Credit replaces the current benefit system? For those of you like the Minister who are hard of thinking that means no household will be allowed to have an income from benefits above £500:00 per week. Now let’s do the sums, for a family with a four bed need and who are dependant on benefits and an obligation to pay £400:00 per week, not unusual in Newham or frankly anywhere in London and the South East. Which will leave them with £100:00 to pay all bills feed and clothe themselves. Of course people can choose to move to a more affordable area of the Country, Stoke for instance. That wouldn’t be social cleansing of course that is choice, Hobson’s maybe but choice none the less.

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  • I nearly choked reading this. Considering this particular council turned down housing 100 people in HA properties because they were "too busy" to provide a list of allocations. Now all of a sudden they're realising they can't afford all those lovely private lets. Of course, the tenants suffer.

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  • AS housing peope we ned to make clear that the caps on housing benefit/LHA rates apply to people in work just as much as those out of work. there is a tendency by Shapps et al to paint this policy as preventing the unemployed enjoying housing the employed can't afford. That isn't the case. To repeat - caps on LHA etc apply to those in work but being paid low wages. The only cap that applies to the unemployed is the total amount of social security payable.

    If someone on low wages moves to Stoke to get an affordable rent, and gives up their work as a result, they will proably be found to be intentionally unemployed so they won't get any social security help. (Just as will happen to thopse whose Working Tax Credit is reduced and in theory would find themselves better off if they didn't work). And with wages due to be depressed even further in the Midlands and north by regional pay inthe public sector,so the north south divide grows and the area north of the Severn-Wash becomes effectively Britian's apartheid era Soweto to London's role as Johannesburg. A pool of cheap labout expected to find their way south to serve the wealthy rulers of this troubled land.

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  • Peter Wicks

    Its all a question pure GREED....those who own the properties want to maximize their returns...and the Housing Grants don't come any where near the rich pickings from the rich foreign people are prepared to pay for a home in London...perhaps Inside Housing should interview The Duke of Westminster and his likes who OWN much of London and see if this pricks their sense of well being..

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  • Sounds feeble and politicising just before elections. Labour Mayor, Labour Council, Labour mess.

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  • Olympic Stratford borders Forest Gate where Newham Council has just tried to build c1,000 homes NONE OF THEM AFFORDABLE. The developers met in secret with the Council over several years to then tell local people there was "no demand" for affordable housing in Newham. Perhaps a little puzzling to hear Newham Mayor Robin Wales, a resident of Forest Gate, explaining to the BBC Today programme that poor local people will have to be shipped north?

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  • Much of the problem around East and North London is that private landlords are evicting tenants or not renewing leases to cash in on the Olympic letting market. So, the market is overheating/has overheated. There is a lack of housing, and the decades long lack of construction and RTB policies have provided the base that the Olympics have exacerbated. So this may be a short term phenomenon, with East London reverting to being the relatively cheap part of London in which to rent once the Games are over and benefit restrictions bite.

    Newham's action is perhaps the natural consequence of benefit restrictions, but I am of the view that taxpayers should never have been rents paid by benefits up to £100k a year. The buy to let market has been funded by the tax payer for too long and serious attempts needed to be made to control it. Of course, the other aspect is the supply side, with the problem being that far too little is being done to address this. The Nimby charter otherwise known as the Localism act is likely to have little beneficial impact in this area.

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  • Chris

    When Shapps explained the emotion behind his policy was to prevent people on benefits living in areas that 'working people' could not afford to live (ignoring the slur on the working poor from the millionaire), where did he think the poor were going to live, in a carboard box?

    His policy was always going to lead to this. This is what he wanted, and indeed the outcome he trumpted. If he did not understand this would be the outcome, he could have listened to the many across the sector who pointed out it would be.

    Who's the fool going to blame when development fails, and who's fault will it be when Right to Buy creates ghettos of urban poor?

    The 'only following orders' excuse simply will not wash from this Minister.

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  • Shapps is obviously an idiot. If he'd have looked into the LHA eligibility and caps issues, he would have realised that it was the beginning of a process of 'social cleansing' and the demonising of 25-34 year olds. Who am I kidding? He knew what the outcome would be, and is now faking outrage at Newham's enquiries - what did he think the Localism Act was set up for?

    By lowering the LHA rate to the 30th percentile, capping LHA overall and forcing 25-34yr olds to move into shared accommodation (read 'room shares'), claimants in Olympic boroughs have no chance of finding affordable privately rented properties. With the influx of young professionals, does anyone seriously believe that rents will decrease significantly after the Olympics? Like petrol prices, rents will just keep creeping up!

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  • Stephen Gibson

    If Grant is correct that there are almost 1,000 homes available for rent within a five-mile radius of the area within the benefit cap - then it does look as if it could be the case that the Labour-controlled Newham Council is "playing-politics", however there is definitive evidence to show that rents are not reducing within London and I cannot see how the HB cap will not lead to poorer families being moved out of certain London boroughs and into areas of the country where the HB cap means they can be housed.

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