A Sensible Approach to Housing

There has been much debate over the last few days on proposals by London Councils to meet their housing needs following news that LB of Newham is seeking to rent 500 properties in Stoke on Trent to house London families.

Labour has accused Westminster Council of “looking to move homeless Housing Benefit claimants 130 miles away to Derby and Nottingham” but , as ever, miss the point.

In Westminster, we have a clear policy which is driven by fairness. In line with the Government’s overall benefit cap, the amount of Housing Benefit people in the city are entitled will be limited. This is right and fair.

It cannot be right that people in work are forced to look for suitable property that is within their budget, but those who are out-of-work are given free reign of Central London with the taxpayer picking up the bill, whatever the cost as we have some of the highest rents in the country.

An absolute cap has also been introduced on weekly rent to protect taxpayers from the situation we have seen in the past where some families have been housed in properties with weekly rents in excess of £2,000 – these rents are way beyond the aspiration of many working families who do not have state support.

Under the changes weekly rent cannot exceed £250 for a one bedroom property, £290 for a two bedroom property, £340 for a three bedroom property, £400 for a four bedroom property.

We have already seen evidence that this is resulting in landlords lowering rents to meet the cap, reversing the grotesque abuse of taxpayer funds which has been exploited by some landlords and tenants who fixed high rents in order to profit from taxpayer funding.

Let me be absolutely clear, as a responsible Local Authority we are seeking solutions for housing families, many of whom have no previous or long term connection with Westminster ,who cannot find affordable accommodation in Westminster and are working with other London Councils to provide housing elsewhere in the Capital, within the HB caps, for those who need it. As one option, within a range, we had also considered allowing people who wish to do so move away from London to find a suitable property which is part of sensible contingency planning given the level of rents throughout the capital but we will not be proceeding with this at present.

Let me also be clear that if you are in City West Homes (Westminster) home you are not affected
If you are in a Housing Association home you are not affected
If you are a disabled person or there is a disabled person in the household, you are not affected.
If you are a war widow or a widower, you are not affected.

Further information on: http://www.westminster.gov.uk/services/housing/housingoptions/hphoptions/housing-benefit-changes-april-2011/

This entry was posted on Tuesday, 8 May 2012. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed.