Low income families in Tower Hamlets being forced out of central London

Housing benefit cap leads to a 27% drop in claimants in central London boroughs with residents being forced to outer London

-      Falling wages, rocketing house prices and Government cuts forcing low paid out of central London

-      Changes risk making central London “the reserve of the privileged”

Analysis by Labour London Assembly Member John Biggs AM has shown a 12% drop in the number of private renters claiming Housing Benefit in Tower Hamlets since the introduction of the Government’s Housing Benefit cap. The figures come despite the Mayor of London’s pledge that families would not be “evicted from the place they have been living and where they have put down roots.”

By contrast the number of claimants in outer London has increased 9% leading Biggs to say the figures suggest low income families are being forced out of central areas as a result of rising rents and cuts to benefits.

Overall the number of privately rented households claiming housing benefit in the central London boroughs of Camden, City of London, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea and City of Westminster, where the difference was most stark, has dropped by 27%, or 5,972 households, since the cap on Local Housing Allowance was introduced in April 2011. In Tower Hamlets the claimants dropped by 12% or 669 households. By contrast the number of claimants in outer London boroughs has increased 9% by 14,883 leading to accusations that London families had been forced out of central areas as a result of the cap.

Since 2011 private sector rents in London have increased by 21%. John Biggs argued that the cap is having a massive impact on London’s poorer communities in central areas who face a perfect storm of stagnant wages, rocketing rents and cuts in Government support.                                                                                                                                                                                         

Upon the introduction of the Government’s caps to housing benefit the Mayor pledged he’d “emphatically resist any attempt to recreate a London where the rich and poor cannot live together”and that London would not see “thousands of families being evicted from the place they have been living and where they have put down roots.”Yet these new figures suggest that this is exactly what is happening with many families unable to afford rapidly increasing rents within the Government’s cap.

John Biggs, Labour London Assembly Member for City & East London said:

“Families who have lived their whole lives in Tower Hamlets are being forced out by a perfect storm of falling wages, rocketing house prices and Government cuts. Whilst it is clear that the housing benefit bill needs to be reduced, the Mayor promised that low income families in London wouldn’t be forced out – these figures make clear that is a promise he has broken.

“The rising cost of living and the Housing Benefit cap have hit London hardest pushing a quarter of low income households out of central areas, including an 12% fall in Tower Hamlets. This not only has a devastating effect on those households, it results in the loss of our mixed communities and puts additional pressure on the outer London boroughs facing the influx. If the trend continues, central London will become the reserve of the privileged, a no-go zone for lower income families. That shouldn’t be an acceptable outcome for anyone.”

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