Low income families are 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”

New analysis from my office has shown a 27% drop in the number of private renters claiming Housing Benefit in central London since the introduction of the Government’s Housing Benefit cap. Despite the Mayor’s claim that people would not be “evicted from the place they have been living and where they have put down roots,” the 9% increase in the number of claimants in outer London suggests 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. 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%. I have long 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.

Families who have lived their whole lives in central London 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. 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. 

Here are the results of our research:

Mar-11 Aug-14
  Private Rented Sector claimants Private Rented Sector claimants Difference Mar 2011 – Aug 2014 Percentage Change
Camden 5,160 4,222 -938 -18%
City of London 89 31 -58 -65%
Islington 3,999 3,339 -660 -17%
Kensington and Chelsea 4,176 2,887 -1,289 -31%
Westminster 8,558 5,531 -3,027 -35%
Total: Central London 21,982 16,010 -5,972 -27%
Camden 5,160 4,222 -938 -18%
City of London 89 31 -58 -65%
Hackney 10,077 9,709 -368 -4%
Hammersmith and Fulham 4,581 3,793 -788 -17%
Haringey 13,612 13,944 332 2%
Islington 3,999 3,339 -660 -17%
Kensington and Chelsea 4,176 2,887 -1,289 -31%
Lambeth 8,601 7,869 -732 -9%
Lewisham 11,136 10,396 -740 -7%
Newham 13,163 14,681 1,518 12%
Southwark 5,402 4,667 -735 -14%
Tower Hamlets 5,548 4,879 -669 -12%
Wandsworth 8,034 7,580 -454 -6%
Westminster 8,558 5,531 -3,027 -35%
Total: Inner London 102,136 93,528 -8,608 -8%
Barking and Dagenham 6,572 7,618 1,046 16%
Barnet 13,151 16,552 3,401 26%
Bexley 4,793 5,239 446 9%
Brent 16,013 17,320 1,307 8%
Bromley 5,561 5,520 -41 -1%
Croydon 16,637 17,131 494 3%
Ealing 12,620 14,547 1,927 15%
Enfield 15,995 18,807 2,812 18%
Greenwich 5,574 6,109 535 10%
Harrow 8,880 10,041 1,161 13%
Havering 4,562 5,152 590 13%
Hillingdon 7,831 8,749 918 12%
Hounslow 7,112 7,768 656 9%
Kingston upon Thames 3,621 3,912 291 8%
Merton 7,870 7,268 -602 -8%
Redbridge 9,893 10,566 673 7%
Richmond upon Thames 3,031 3,000 -31 -1%
Sutton 4,556 5,022 466 10%
Waltham Forest 10,624 9,458 -1,166 -11%
Total: Outer London 164,896 179,779 14,883 9%
Total: London 267,032 273,302 6,270 2%

Source: DWP Data tables: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

  • In March 2011 the Government capped Housing benefits. The current caps stand at:
Property Weekly amount
1 bedroom (or shared accommodation) Up to £258.06
2 bedrooms Up to £299.34
3 bedrooms Up to £350.95
4 bedrooms Up to £412.89
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Old Oak Common and Park Royal MDC vote

This afternoon the Assembly voted on proposals establish a new Mayoral Development Corporation for Old Oak Common and Park Royal (OPDC). The huge development potential unlocked by the coming transport super-hub at Old Oak Common and Park Royal has the unique potential to transform this area of London.

Whilst we support the principle of an MDC, there are a number of key details within this specific proposal which have yet to be resolved. That’s why Labour Group proposed a successful motion outlining these concerns.

Given the capital’s acute housing crisis, the provision of high levels of affordable housing should be at the forefront of the MDC’s aims. To achieve that goal we strongly believe the Mayor should include a requirement that 50 per cent of all new homes are affordable, with a 60:40 split between intermediate and social rents. Instead he has neglected to set any targets for affordable housing.

There are also real concerns at the unprecedented speed with which the Mayor is attempting to push through the key planning documents. Whilst we all want to see the MDC up and running quickly, there is a risk that the Mayor’s appetite to rush it through before he leaves office will be to the detriment of future planning decisions and come at the cost of proper public consultation.

The Mayor has utterly failed to make the case for the unjustified and unnecessary inclusion of Wormwood Scrubs within the boundary of the MDC. With such a complex and technical proposal it is vitally important that the rights and views of local people are not trampled over.

I will post the agreed motion text once it becomes available.

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Big Advice Survey

Big Advice Survey logo

As a patron of the Hackney Community Law Centre, I want to encourage you to take a look at the The Big Advice Survey, a national survey conducted at a local level. It looks at how we deal with problems in our daily lives and where advice fits in. It also explores the potential for alternative ways of delivering advice services as well as a range of other areas, eg the relationship between advice and health and wellbeing.

The Big Advice Survey is collaborative, created and promoted by individual Citizens Advice Bureaux and Law Centres and an incredibly diverse range of other organisations including solicitor firms,community groups, local businesses, foodbanks, housing associations, colleges and educational institutions.

Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey.

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Housing Commission in Friern Barnet tonight

The Barnet Labour Group Housing Commission is meeting tonight at Friern Barnet Community Library for a public evidence session on tackling rogue landlords, improving standards in the private rented sector and securing more affordable homes on new developments.

 Barnet’s Labour councillors have set-up the Housing Commission to look into how Barnet can increase the supply of affordable homes, and help improve standards in the private rented sector. I am chairing the Commission, which is made up of independent housing experts, local community representatives and Labour councillors.  The Commission will meet six times over the next 8 months, and will be taking evidence from housing professionals, other London boroughs and the local community.

Tonight’s meeting takes place  7.15-10pm at the Friern Barnet Community Library, Friern Barnet Road N11 3DS, and will hear evidence from Alison Inman and Kate Murray – founding steering group members of Social Housing Under Threat (SHOUT); Cllr Phil Glanville – Housing Cabinet Member, LB Hackney, Cllr James Murray – Housing Cabinet Member, LB Islington and Sarah Sackman – Public Law Barrister and Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Finchley & Golders Green.

 All members of the public are welcome to attend and listen to the evidence, and can also give their own evidence by booking a 3 minute slot in the 30 minute open mike session here.

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Shocking new stats reveal true scale of London’s silent killer

The extent of the Mayor’s truly appalling record on air quality has been highlighted by the release of new research from Clean Air London which suggests that as many as 7,500 Londoners a year are dying from air pollution.

Air pollution London

 Clean Air London also suggested that the number of people currently dying as a result of air pollution could be as high as 7,500 a year in London. The data which was released this week by Simon Birkett of Clean Air London is drawn from a study commissioned by the Mayor as part of the Health Impact Assessment for the proposed Ultra Low Emission Zone and states that current estimates suggest 6,851 Londoners could die each year by 2020 as a consequence of the capital’s air pollution problem.

Prior to this study, it was believed that 4,300 lives were prematurely lost in the capital each year as a result of air pollution. The new figures include analysis of the impact of additional categories of pollutants which are known to be detrimental to public health.

In the summer the Mayor provided more details on an Ultra-Low Emission Zone but the scheme would only cover a small area of London and won’t come into effect until after 2020. It’s a good scheme but it doesn’t go far enough.

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Save our Hospitals

I was very pleased to support the Save our Hospitals campaign at their karaoke fundraiser on Sunday evening. A&Es across north west London are under threat at a time the area is expected to see significant population growth. For more information on the campaign visit www.saveourhospitals.net.

Merril Hammer and Nicky Gavron at Save our Hospitals campaign karaoke fundraiser

Merril Hammer and Nicky Gavron at Save our Hospitals campaign karaoke fundraiser

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Housing Commission comes to Dollis Valley!

The Barnet Labour Group Housing Commission will be taking evidence next week on tackling rogue landlords, improving standards in the private rented sector and how to secure more affordable homes on new developments.

 Barnet’s Labour councillors have set-up the Housing Commission to look into how Barnet can increase the supply of affordable homes, and help improve standards in the private rented sector. I am chairing the Commission, which is made up of independent housing experts, local community representatives and Labour councillors.  The Commission will meet six times over the next 8 months, and will be taking evidence from housing professionals, other London boroughs and the local community.

Tonight’s meeting takes place  7-10pm at the Rainbow Centre, Dollis Valley Drive EN5 2UN, and will hear evidence from private tenants’ rights campaigner, Jacky Peacock OBE – Executive Director of Advice4Renters; Roz Spencer – Rogue Landlords Taskforce, LB Lewisham, Duncan Bowie – Senior Lecturer in Spatial Planning, University of Westminster, Professors Ines Newman and Marjorie Mayo – authors of ‘Tackling the housing crisis’ and Maria Brenton – co-founder of Older Women’s CoHousing project in High Barnet.

 All members of the public are welcome to attend and listen to the evidence, and can also give their own evidence by booking a 3 minute slot in the 30 minute open mike session here.

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