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Homeless families are to be moved out of London into cheaper areas.

(32 Posts)
Solopower1 Sun 11-Nov-12 18:03:17

'Working families, ex-servicemen and people who volunteer will get priority in council housing lists over those who are homeless or destitute under new Whitehall plans.

Vulnerable homeless families will be rehoused in the private rented sector, often many miles from where they live, to free up social homes for so-called "priority" households, according to a government document presented to councils this week and seen by the Guardian.

The government is privately urging councils to adopt housing allocation policies that favour "deserving" families, alongside draconian powers that in effect remove the long-established obligation on councils to provide a social-rented property to homeless families.


The move, which comes as local authorities anticipate a huge wave of families presenting as homeless as a result of welfare reforms, is likely to accelerate the process by which poorer families in the private rented sector who are made homeless are shifted from expensive areas such as London to cheaper areas of the UK.


'Ministers, and local authorities adopting the policy, are likely to portray the change as one that frees up social housing for poor working families who can no longer afford to get on the property ladder, and more controversially, as a way to stop people trying to jump to the top of the council housing list by declaring themselves as homeless.

But critics have condemned the move as taking essential welfare resources away from the most needy and vulnerable and returning Britain to a pre-Cathy Come Home model of social housing provision in which local officials decide which families deserve to be given affordable homes.


Ministers have publicly condemned councils for rehousing vulnerable families miles away from where they were settled. But privately officials accept that benefit caps and soaring rents, coupled with the new homelessness guidance, will give councils in high-cost housing areas little option but to relocate households out of their home borough.'

When I first read this I felt appalled at the effect it would have on homeless families. I thought what it sounds like is social engineering or even social cleansing. Also, removing the obligation of the council to house people really does put them at the mercy of unscrupulous private landlords. And why should people have to move from an area where they might have family and friends, schools, etc?

But although everything in me is revolted at the idea of uprooting families like this, could it actually be better for them in the long run? If, for example, they are moved from an inner city area with all the associated problems to a place where they could have a higher quality of life? Or am I clutching at straws?

And the idea of giving so much power to local officials really does worry me.

Rache1S Sun 11-Nov-12 18:19:07

On one hand I agree that it's absolutely outrageous that local authorities will have the power to move families potentially hundreds of miles away from their friends and the area they grew up in, but on the other hand why should these unemployed families get free housing in areas that average working families can't afford to live?

It really is a difficult one.

CharlieUniformNovemberTango Sun 11-Nov-12 18:24:10

I think this might not be so bad if they let you choose where.

At the moment, you ca't present as homeless elsewhere. You are sent back to your last registered address and you have to apply to that council.

So if I want to move out of the area when I'm made homeless I can't. Because the council says I need a local connection. But that local connection will mean nothing from their end.

So just to address that point before it comes up (it always does) No - A family who become homeless in an expensive area cannot just 'go and live somewhere cheaper' by choice. They would not be housed in the new area.

alemci Sun 11-Nov-12 18:30:52

I think it sounds fair. why shouldn't ex service personnel have some priority claim if they have had to leave army accommodation. They have often put their lives on the line.

families where no one works do not need to live in central london

happyinherts Sun 11-Nov-12 18:32:50

But where are all these properties in other areas just waiting to be filled?

Does it make sense to relocate homeless London families to northern towns because it's cheaper when there must be homeless families already in those towns waiting for accommodation? Where do they go then? Just wait forever until their children reach adulthood and are no longer eligible for housing? I dont think this problem will be solved. Not practical and probably not really cost effective

CharlieUniformNovemberTango Sun 11-Nov-12 18:45:05

So, the government is pushing councils to offload the homeless people onto private housing at a time when they KNOW that the homeless numbers will swell.

And they are capping housing benefit stupidly low - too low for big towns and cities.

They have also removed the clause that said new build developers HAD to include a % of social homes.

What part of these policy changes addresses the real problem - the lack of social housing? I can't see any sense in it.

And this notion that if you don't work then you can't possibly contribute to a community is pretty horrid really.

Just so wrong that they are getting away with this.

HappyMummyOfOne Sun 11-Nov-12 19:12:17

I dont think its a totally bad idea, those who work have to budget where they live so why should those that dont get to stay in an expensive area. Policies that make thngs more equal or reward workers are what we need, maybe then we wont have such a huge amount on benefits by choice.

Solopower1 Sun 11-Nov-12 19:51:03

Not many people are on benefits by choice. Don't believe all you see in the papers.

joanbyers Sun 11-Nov-12 20:21:15

There has never been an obligation to provide social-rented property for homeless families. You end up in refuge miles away as it is.

VivaLeBeaver Sun 11-Nov-12 20:31:35

It's happened before. The town where I went to school doubled in size in the 1960s as families were sent up on the train to accommodation here. A whole massive estate was built to house them. It caused no end of problems in the town, suddenly 50% of the population were unemployed.

Which had a major knock on effect for the more established residents.

Major integration issues.

I lived there in the late 80s, early 90s and the town still had a reputation as been a shit hole, especially that estate. It's a bit better now but still has cheaper housing and higher unemployment than other towns in the county.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Mon 12-Nov-12 23:05:57

It sounds to me like the basic principle is that councils will have the same responsibility to house people, but in areas that are the most popular, the limited number of homes should go to the people that contribute the most to that society.

Which seems like common sense.

stillsmarting Tue 13-Nov-12 12:17:12

VivaLeBeaver you beat me to it. "London overspill" has been going on for a long time, in various forms. I can name three places within 20 miles of here which were small towns and expanded because people were moved out to ease the pressure on London.
I can see a certain amount of logic in it, in that it is cheaper, but most of the towns where this has already been done have ended up with huge problems as a result.

HullyEastergully Tue 13-Nov-12 12:17:50


Ghetto time.

Viviennemary Tue 13-Nov-12 16:44:47

I think it does make sense to house homeless families in cheaper areas. Because sure that means more families can be helped.

HullyEastergully Tue 13-Nov-12 16:53:54

they won't get bloody jobs tho, will they?

Basically all poor people will be herded together into ghettos of hopeless poverty that they will never be able to escape from.

Viviennemary Tue 13-Nov-12 16:59:19

A lot of people already do live in areas where it is extremely difficult if not impossible to get a job. Nobody seems to care very much about them.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Tue 13-Nov-12 17:47:57

Why would it neccesarily create a ghetto?

Are these people automatically destined to make whatever area is given to them into a dump and start committing anti social crimes? Is there some reason I don't know about that would prevent them from creating a nice little community?

Smudging Tue 13-Nov-12 17:58:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

domesticgodless Tue 13-Nov-12 18:03:34

I's there some reason I don't know about that would prevent them from creating a nice little community?'

Just minor issues like the ones that landed them in social housing int he first place: addiction, MH issues, disability, family breakdown and resulting stress, trauma due to abuse, long term unemployment leading to unemployability. Etc.

domesticgodless Tue 13-Nov-12 18:10:05

as Viva says this is simply going to create a whole new generation of sink estates and indeed towns.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Tue 13-Nov-12 18:15:05

There are plenty of people that need social housing that function perfectly well in society that have those things, or have had to deal with those things.

You can't write people off as being able to create nothing but a ghetto because of disability, mental health problems, family breakdowns etc.

InNeedOfBrandy Tue 13-Nov-12 18:16:33

ghettos pfftt maybe if they tackled the huge amount of unemployment so people had jobs there would be less poverty and no need for ghettos to be created.

domesticgodless Tue 13-Nov-12 18:20:04

I am not writing anyone off. But creating 'sinks' areas dominated by people who already face problems is not likely to lead to the new Bournville in 20 years time. Pollyanna politics isn't going to cut it here.

fabsmum Tue 13-Nov-12 18:21:17

It makes me shiver to think about vulnerable families with children or elderly people being moved miles away from their relatives and communities. Children being uprooted from schools.

On the other hand well-off families living in areas with high housing costs are going to be delighted as disadvantaged families are gradually moved out of the area, into areas with other poor families where housing costs are low.

This will do wonders for SATS scores in state schools in areas like Richmond and Kew. sad

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Tue 13-Nov-12 19:05:17

It is sad that people will have to be moved away from families if they don't want to be. But sometimes it has to happen anyway for other reasons, and I don't think that having a home in your first choice location is something that people deserve to be given automatically.

Some areas just can't take any more people, especially in cities. So no matter how valid a persons reasons are for wanting to stay in a certain area, it can't always happen. When homes become available in a certain area, then it makes sense for people who make a contribution to that are to stay, and the ones who don't contribute to be moved somewhere else.

This isn't about who deserves housing the most. People who need housing will get it. It's about making the community a priority over an individual. If a community, as well as an individual would lose something valuable by someone being moved to a different area, then it makes sense to try to help them to stay.

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