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Social 'cleansing'? What are the implications?

(383 Posts)
Solopower1 Thu 14-Feb-13 16:34:49

Camden Council wants to move 750 poor families north to places like Bradford and Leicester. They say that because of the new benefit caps (which limit total welfare payments to £500 a week for families, no matter how many children they have or how much they have to pay for rent), some families are not going to be able to afford to live in London. So they're shunting them all up north.

I don't think this is a new idea, btw, but I still find it shocking.

When the govt were discussing these benefit cap plans, they must have worked out the implications for the families that would no longer be able to afford to live in their houses. And they will have realised that this would happen more in the poorer, Labour-run (?) councils. It's inspired, it's so clever. In one fell swoop they free up all the lovely expensive properties being wasted on poor families, and the Labour councils get the blame for it. It's absolute genius, don't you think?

So what sort of place will London be, when the heart is ripped out of it, and all the children go? Perhaps a tad melodramatic, but the Pied Piper springs to mind - not that I am blaming the Mayor and Corporation of Camden, particularly (don't know enough about it, tbh).

Solopower1 Thu 14-Feb-13 16:36:03

Here's the Guardian's take on it:

Solopower1 Thu 14-Feb-13 16:46:13

Actually it seems a bit much to talk politics when people's lives are going to be so deeply affected:

'One single mother in Camden with four children, all under the age of 10, told the Guardian: "I want to stay where I am for my children's education. What it seems like is the government just want London for the rich. They want to move people on benefits to poor areas." Her rent is £340 for a two-bedroom flat in Camden. When the cap comes into effect, the government will reduce her housing subsidy to £204. This leaves a shortfall of £136. The council has offered to rehouse her in Liverpool.

She said: "Not being given that option to choose where you want to live and where your children go to school isn't fair. The government is taking away people's homes and the places where they've made friends. To think that someone has the power to do that over you … Obviously the government made a lot of mistakes and now everyone is taking the brunt of their mistakes. My children are my priority. If I have to move I will but obviously I'm trying to resolve this."'


'Camden says it has been forced to act because the government's policy does not recognise the capital's local circumstances. The borough has the fourth-highest rents in the country. Councillors argue work is no route out of poverty because London has the second-highest childcare costs in the world and house prices are pushed up because Camden's average wage is £37,000, 42% higher than the national average.

The result is that rents of three-bedroom properties in Camden are at least double the government's maximum welfare payment of £340 a week for such properties in north London. Yet three-children families in Camden, said the council, will have a £175 a week limit for housing benefit due to the cap. The local authority says it has no more council housing available – it has a waiting list – so has no alternative but to "explore out-of-borough housing options. The local housing allowance [government welfare subsidy] in Birmingham and Leicester for a three-bed is £127 a week." '

Solopower1 Thu 14-Feb-13 16:49:31

There is also an interesting discussion on housing here (Shelter blog):

I posted this separately so as not to hijack that thread.

Shellywelly1973 Thu 14-Feb-13 16:49:59

In the article it refers to the low paid. The benefit cap will only be applied to non working households.

This government have hit the poorest, weakest &needy.

Boroughs all over London will be dealing with the long term implications of the welfare cuts.

Rhiannon86 Thu 14-Feb-13 16:57:31

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Solopower1 Thu 14-Feb-13 17:02:58

But, Rhiannon they're not talking about people who have just decided they want to move or are in the process of deciding where to live. They're talking about families who might well come from the area, have lived there for generations, have social networks, kids at school, etc. They have to move out, away from their extended families and friends, so that other, richer, people can move in.

Rhiannon86 Thu 14-Feb-13 17:05:41

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LineRunner Thu 14-Feb-13 17:09:08

How are the councils in places like Bradford and Leicester, and Southampton and Portsmouth down the train line from London, meant to cope? They have all just finalised massive spending cuts, thanks to the Govt's austerity programme and Eric Pickles's determination to hammer local government (i.e. actual people who live in actual places).

Lafaminute Thu 14-Feb-13 17:09:20

I lived in central London, but when we had our first child we could not afford to move to a bigger house, along with childcare so we moved to the countryside which was not our first choice. That is the way it works....

usualsuspect Thu 14-Feb-13 17:09:44

Leicester doesn't have room for them, we have a social housing shortage of our own.

LineRunner Thu 14-Feb-13 17:10:47

But who pays for the increase in the numbers of population in cities like Leicester? That's a massive decant.

There needs to be provision for the cost of school places, health services, housing needs, social care ...

WishIdbeenatigermum Thu 14-Feb-13 17:11:15

Mm. I'd like to live in Camden, and I'd love to have had 4 children.
I couldn't afford either.
I hate the idea of children being moved away from schools and communities.
But again, my family- all graduates in professional jobs- live hours' drive away from each other. We've had to follow the work.

usualsuspect Thu 14-Feb-13 17:12:49

Is Camden council going to give Leicester City council the money to provide all the extra services too?

LineRunner Thu 14-Feb-13 17:13:32

usual exactly.

There are housing shortages in all the 'cheaper' cities in the UK. That would be because of all the council homes that were sold off and because of how many of these are now owned by private landlords charging extortionate rents, a scandal that no Govt ever tackled post-Thatcher.

LineRunner Thu 14-Feb-13 17:14:46

Usual x post.

There has been no money placed into any city council budget that I know of to accommodate this proposed decant.

usualsuspect Thu 14-Feb-13 17:16:39

Do none of you care about what might happen in the Cities these poor people are shipped too? OK to increase our housing waiting lists and put more pressure on our services is it?

It's not all about London.

Solopower1 Thu 14-Feb-13 17:23:21

Yes, the mind boggles, doesn't it? The northern cities will get fuller and fuller of people they can't afford to look after, but that is just a sacrifice they will have to make, so that all the multimillionaires can live in London.

Floggingmolly Thu 14-Feb-13 17:25:09

Camden is one of the more expensive London boroughs; thereby pricing many, many would be buyers out of the market. (and indeed private renters).
Please explain why the council should subsidise rent for people who wouldn't have a hope in hell of affording market rates?
I bought a house in a borough I could afford, it certainly wasn't the one I'd have chosen had money been no object. Sadly there were no subsidies available to allow me my first choice.

Narked Thu 14-Feb-13 17:25:45

I don't like this at all, but, £326/week rent???? Seriously????

Solopower1 Thu 14-Feb-13 17:30:51

WishIdbeenatigermum - these families don't have work, afaik.

However, I know a lot those who do have jobs in central London can't afford to rent or buy anywhere near their work. So what's the solution? Force people to leave the area and free up the housing.

Or, if we're talking social engineering, why don't we make everyone who lives in a huge house take in a poor family and let them occupy the ballroom or part of the west wing?

<Sorry, that was my inner child, wailing>

Narked Thu 14-Feb-13 17:30:55

I'd imagine that the Right To Buy plus lack of investment in new council properties and rising demand for social housing has caused the shortage so that the council has been left paying private rental costs for those eligible for housing benefit. It's obviously unsustainable, but there must be a better way of dealing with it. Scrapping Right To Buy for a start and possible selling of a small number of the highest value council properties to fund the building of more social housing.

JakeBullet Thu 14-Feb-13 17:33:47

As the parent of a disabled child who lives near my support network (not Camden btw) I would be mightily pissed off if this involved me....especially as I spent the pas 30 years in work and paying taxes.
I am lucky to have social housing but I had absolutely NO say in where I was placed, I went where there was an empty house and I imagine in Camden it's the same. A bit much therefore to suddenly uproot people who might well rely on a known support infrastructure.
This is social cleansing no matter what it's dressed up as.

Narked Thu 14-Feb-13 17:39:51

The problem is that some of these issues need to be dealt with on a London wide scale or indeed involving councils in bordering areas. Key workers are needed in London, and many more people are needed to fill jobs that wouldn't be described as such but are essential for modern living. Areas where land is higher in value might find it beneficial to invest in subsidised housing in boroughs with lower costs.

Moving from one area of London to another is one thing, but offering moves to places like Bradford and Leicester is insane. It's a cynical move that allows the councils to say that they offered help and were refused.

Solopower1 Thu 14-Feb-13 17:40:39

Floggingmolly how is forcing families to leave going to help you? I'm sorry you couldn't afford to buy your first choice, but I don't see that it has anything to do with a poor family renting a home that wasn't for sale and that you probably wouldn't want to live in anyway.

I don't think it's the fault of the poor families that the rents are so high. Why not ask the landlords (nicely) to reduce their rents? Property owners don't have to charge exhorbitant prices.

Or ask the government to regulate the housing market.

I think you are blaming the wrong people here.

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