Newham Council Accused Of 'Social Cleansing'
|London’s Newham Council has been accused of “social cleansing” in the capital by asking a Stoke-on-Trent housing association to take on up to 500 families who receive housing benefit.
The council has said with the gap between market rents and housing allowance being so big, it can no longer afford to house tenants on its waiting list in private accommodation.
But the housing association says such a move could mark the start of "thousands of needy people" being dumped elsewhere.
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".
Labour controlled Newham Council is in the east of the city, an area that will host the Olympics this year.
The council wrote to Brighter Futures Housing Association in Stoke, offering it the "opportunity" to lease homes to it.
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The letter goes on to say that the local private rental sector is beginning to "overheat" because of the "onset of the Olympic Games and the buoyant young professionals market".
Adding that 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 Brighter Futures chief executive officer, Gill Brown, has not formally replied to Newham Council's offer but says she will not agree.
"I think there is a real issue of social cleansing going on," she said.
"We are very anxious about this letter which we believe signals the start of a movement which could see thousands of needy people dumped in Stoke with no proper plan for their support or their welfare.
"We have seen in the past relocation putting strain on other services because the medical, education and justice systems are unprepared for an influx of very needy people.
"The result was huge, unplanned pressure on local services, the collapse of already vulnerable neighbourhoods and the rise of divisive right-wing extremism.
"We believe that, if London boroughs are allowed to export their most vulnerable and challenging families to cities like Stoke-on-Trent, then exactly the same will happen again."
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