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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About nickygavron

Former Deputy Mayor for London, London Assembly Member, Chair of Planning Committee, and Labour Spokesperson for Planning
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