I was concerned to learn today from reports in the Observer that London is set to become ‘unaffordable’, forcing people to move out of their homes not only in parts of central London but in the suburbs too.
Last week’s Observer revealed that inner London Councils are so fearful that they were block booking bed and breakfasts outside the capital to house thousands of poor families who could be forced to move out of their homes.
I am concerned that the government has failed to acknowledge the problem or give any indication that it has a plan in place – I am keen to hear what the Mayor will do to address this imminent problem if the plans go ahead. I expect as the highest representative of Londoners he will oppose these plans and tackle his government in the strongest terms.
Vince Cable rather smartly placed the ball firmly in the Mayors court and applied pressure to Boris Johnson to address the underlying problem of why there are escalating rental prices in London.
But this is not a party political issue to gain points over and even Boris said that he will not accept any kind of social cleansing of London – and I should hope not. Thousands of families have put down roots in London. What is he prepared to do though?
Are we going to see a ‘social cleansing’ of the capital? – Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter who commissioned the research undertaking by Cambridge University, said that the governments proposed reforms of housing benefit would change the makeup of London with no-go areas for those on local housing allowance, and if there is little opposition to these proposals I fear this is exactly what we will see.
The actual number of households which will be effected by the proposals varies and remains vague, with analysis by the mayor’s housing experts claiming it to be in the region of 9000 households and Grant Shapps (the housing minister) suggesting that just 17000 people in London will be affected by the cap.
A social cleansing of the capital would have disastrous consequences, not least because it creates a false economy and therefore any cost savings would be marginal because, as Ed Milliband pointed out, if you drive up homelessness families end up in bed and breakfasts and that costs more not less.