By Jaimie Kaffash
16 July 2010
The government’s cap on Housing Benefit could
lead to almost 15,000 families in London losing their homes, councils in the
capital have warned.
The London Councils group said the cost of
private renting in the capital is far greater than elsewhere and setting an
arbitrary cap discriminates against families in London. In figuresreleased today, the councils claim that around 14,700 families could be
forced to move home or live in overcrowded conditions. Of the 18,600 families
that could be affected in total, around 10,000 are in inner London. If these
families move to cheaper accommodation, this could put an extra burden on outer
London boroughs’ housing and education services, the group is warning.
Hackney mayor Jules Pipe, the chair of London
Councils, said that ‘while everybody recognises the need to reform’, a blanket
cap would have ‘unforeseen consequences’.
‘Many of the people who will be affected are
in work but on low incomes and play an important role in keeping London’s economy
and public services going. In some inner London boroughs, as many as half of
the families in receipt of this benefit work for a living, but if they are
forced to move away they may have to give up their jobs.
‘We want the government to revise the cap for
inner London or allocate a budget to make sure that inner London can cope with
the massive shortfalls the caps generate.’
The Shelter housing charity last week warned
that some struggling households in London would have a shortfall of up to £1,548
a month to meet housing costs.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of
Shelter, said: ‘The increased rental costs people will now have to find each
month will force many Londoners to leave the homes and communities they work in,
and often grew up in, and move further out in search of cheaper rents. Long
term this could create clusters of poverty and inequality, creating an even
bigger gap between rich and poor.’
Yesterday, housing minister Grant Shapps
warned that there were no reliable statistics of how many people were sleeping
Shapps was commenting on a Department forCommunities and Local Government study showing that the number of rough
sleepers in England had hit an 11-year low. A survey of 70 councils found there
was a total of 440 rough sleepers in those areas every night. This is down from
a 2009 survey of 76 councils that put this figure at 464.
But the housing minister said that the methodology
of the study was flawed. Only councils perceived to have a problem with
homelessness were asked to take part. He said he would shortly publish plans to
overhaul the way rough sleeping is assessed.