Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap

The leaked Eric Pickles letter to David Cameron reveals what we already know: poor families will be forced out of London and the South East by the benefits cap.

Pete Challis is a former Greenwich councillor and chaired the Association of Local Government housing committee from 1990-99

“No one will be made homeless: Cameron calls for calm over housing budget cuts” – so ran the headline in the Daily Mail on October 29th 2010. Similar stories appeared elsewhere.

“David Cameron insists housing benefit reform won’t create homeless” – thus ran the Metro headline, quoting the prime minister as saying:

“I don’t think it will be necessary for anybody to go without a home.”


Fast forward a few months, and today’s Observer provides the full text of the letter from Nico Hislop, Private Secretary to communities secretary Eric Pickles, written to the prime minister’s Private Secretary in January 2011.

It reveals:

“Finally, our modelling indicates that we could see an additional 20,000 homelessness acceptances as a result of the total benefit cap. This on top of the 20,000 additional acceptances already anticipated as a result of other changes to Housing Benefit. We are already seeing increased pressures on homelessness services.”

The latest homelessness figures (June 2011) confirm that advice. The number of homeless households is rising again. Homeless acceptances for the year 2010/11 are up 10% but for the quarter January to March 2011 they are up 18 per cent compared with the same quarter in 2010.

The letter also reveals CLG officials believed families with four children receiving benefits will not be able to live in London and the South East.

It discusses the advantages of removing child benefit from the calculation of the cap and describes the benefits of doing so as:

“The homelessness and child poverty risks set out above would be reduced – for example families with 4 children would be able to live in most parts of the country outside London and the South East.”

Charities have warned that new limits on housing benefit, now due to start in January 2012, will leave large swaths of the capital “no-go” areas for the poor. London Councils found (pdf) that in seven of the most expensive local authority areas – Camden; the City; Hackney; Hammersmith and Fulham; Kensington and Chelsea; Tower Hamlets; and Westminster – local private rents are higher than the benefit cap throughout the borough.

In Kensington and Chelsea, of 2,771 households currently receiving benefits to help pay private rent, 2,047 will face a shortfall – 89.7 per cent. Of those, more than 900 are either aged over 70, or have young children.

Furthermore, research by Homes and Property suggests there are no two, three or four bedroom private rented properties available in Kensington and Chelsea at rents that would fall within the cap, with the Standard reporting:

“Thousands of schoolchildren in parts of central London could be forced to move because of housing benefit cuts.”

Eleven thousand, eight hundred children will be forced to move school resulting in outer London boroughs finding extra primary school places. Assuming 300 children per school, if all the children are of primary school age, the equivalent of nearly 40 extra primary schools will be needed.

46 Responses to “Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap”

  1. John Turner

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap: //bit.ly/lsrDyB writes Pete Challis

  2. Broken OfBritain

    RT @carlmaxim Benefits cap will leave 40,000 families homeless, but 'deserving cases' will be helped. How… //fb.me/11ThQ7mt6

  3. Rep in the Region

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap: //bit.ly/lsrDyB writes Pete Challis

  4. Tony Clements

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap: //bit.ly/lsrDyB writes Pete Challis

  5. Matt Griffiths

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap: //bit.ly/lsrDyB writes Pete Challis

  6. Robin

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap: //bit.ly/lsrDyB writes Pete Challis

  7. Laurence Turner

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap: //bit.ly/lsrDyB writes Pete Challis

  8. Richard Garvie

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap: //bit.ly/lsrDyB writes Pete Challis

  9. Seb Alexander

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap: //bit.ly/lsrDyB writes Pete Challis

  10. DJE

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap: //bit.ly/lsrDyB writes Pete Challis

  11. Shan

    A cut too far…40 new schools? Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap – //bit.ly/jtcvdk

  12. Mhairi McAlpine

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap: //bit.ly/lsrDyB writes Pete Challis

  13. vitoria

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals homelessness set to rise. Figures for 1st quarter are up by 18% //bit.ly/lPTWp4 #ukhousing #shelter

  14. Kevin Crowe

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap: //bit.ly/lsrDyB writes Pete Challis

  15. Simon Zec

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap: //bit.ly/lsrDyB writes Pete Challis

  16. Simon Zec

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap: //bit.ly/lsrDyB writes Pete Challis

  17. Simon Zec

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap: //bit.ly/lsrDyB writes Pete Challis

  18. Michael

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap l Left Foot Forward – //tinyurl.com/6xw2co5

  19. Look Left – Up to 10 million face starvation in Horn of Africa | Left Foot Forward

    […] former chair of the Local Government Association housing committee Pete Challis wrote on Left Foot Forward […]

  20. Taff

    RT @leftfootfwd: Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap //t.co/u475OH1

  21. Benefits cap ‘could make 40000 families homeless’ – Channel 4 News | Preston News, Weather, Jobs, and Hotels

    […] Cameron warned welfare cuts could leave 40000 families homelessMetroPickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits capLeft Foot ForwardDaily Mail -BBC News -Sky Newsall 327 news […]

  22. tommy murray

    The government should be cracking down on the landlords who are charging extortionate rents as a result of previous policies to pay these.

  23. Benefits cap ‘could make 40000 families homeless’ – Channel 4 News | Breaking News

    […] families riskThe GuardianDavid Cameron warned welfare cuts could leave 40000 families homelessMetroPickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits capLeft Foot ForwardDaily Mail -BBC News -Sky Newsall 310 news […]

  24. Kevin Richards

    "Nice one Eric" RT @leftfootfwd: Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap //t.co/rkNadhT

  25. Marilyn Freeman

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap: //bit.ly/lsrDyB writes Pete Challis

  26. from Spain to UK

    RT @leftfootfwd: Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap //t.co/KsUtAn0

  27. Henry Jones

    RT @leftfootfwd: Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap //t.co/RJFwXgu

  28. Homeless UK

    Pickles Hypocrisy Smoke & Mirrors

    THE END OF SOCIAL HOUSING

    Pickles claims his new Social Housing Charter will not effect existing tenants read the small print and it says it will not effect those with “secure or assured tenancies”

    However Pickles is only too aware that the vast majority of secure or assured tenancies are now being declared void due to “uncertainty of term”. The precedent is a 1992 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Prudential v London Residuary Body over a piece of pavement which was let until “required for road widening purposes”. The Supreme Court declared the lease to be void for uncertainty of term.

    More recently in the case of Mexfield v Berrisford Mexfield a fully mutual housing cooperative successfully argued that the tenancy was void due to uncertainty of term and had been replaced by a weekly tenancy.

    So unless these exempted secure or assured tenancies have an end date which they do not then the are all void and replaced by a weekly tenancy. So Pickles new social housing charter is a charter to evict all existing social housing tenants.

  29. John Clarkson

    Let’s look at it more objectively. This govt wastes money on fighting wars that have nothing to do with us – except for the fact that Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan have lots of natural resources we need – if we continue to want to use fossil fuels (joining the other nations is acidification of the oceans life support system – not a good idea). They take this money from the most vulnerable people. They however, make sure they are alright! None of them will be homeless as a result. Pickles looks like he never misses a meal. And Cameron is an upper class twit – I’ve got a higher damned degree than him! However, the majority of people are fooled into believing that democracy is right, even when it should be obvious that people vote for the party that has has the most money – money from banks and oil companies – the city elite – the true ruling order behind these politician puppets. No amount of democracy will cure the following facts: 1. Oil is getting scarce as a result of exponential demand from China and India. 2. Food will thus become increasingly expensive 3. Bailing out banks after oil spikes (like 2008) floods printed money into an economy with nothing to match it in goods and services. Eventually if combined with pension and wage demands HYPERINFLATION must occur. It is inevitable. 4. Democracy and the monetary system can no longer provide the basic needs of people. This system will fall, and anarchy must ensue. 2046 is the date when oil will fail to meet our requirements. Even by 2030 we’ll require 40% more energy due to the losses of oil. Renewables have not sufficiently been invested in to make up the difference. EVen if we solve the energy crisis via FUSION this will only allow humans to over-populate even more and eventually kill their ecosystem.

    Thus worse times are ahead whilst democracy survives. Only a strong leadership following the principles of the Zeitgeist movement will ensure our children and grandchildrens safety. Left or right wing politics will fail because they believe in the monetary economy which has no basis when there is no cheap supply of energy.

  30. John Clarkson

    If the above comment is removed it will prove that left foot forward is owned by banking and union elites with zero imagination.

  31. Pucci Dellanno

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap: //bit.ly/lsrDyB writes Pete Challis

  32. Leon Wolfson

    Why would it be removed? Other rampant nonsense hasn’t been, after all. Zeitgeist movement, lol

  33. Matt Tancock

    Sick. Tories admit benefit cuts will cause 40000 homeless and child ben cap will stop homes with 4 kids living in SE. //bit.ly/jKb6TK

  34. mr. Sensible

    Given that government departments are expressing concerns about this it needs revisiting.

  35. Leon Wolfson

    But it won’t be, mr.Sensible.

    They’ve chosen a blunt money approach rather than tackling the basis of the problem, spiralling rent values. (And even dropping the percentile, which is going to cause a LOT of misery – especially to those in-work – is a relatively small money-wise and temporary fix)

    Oh, and it’s going to break up a lot of families, especially those with disabled members. This also increased government social costs…

  36. Chris Keegan

    2010: housing benefit cuts won't increase homelessness. 2011: cameron was told that it would and guess what? It did. //bit.ly/lHks5v

  37. tsiegtiez

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap: Only a strong leadership following the pri… //bit.ly/j3YUB8

  38. Jo Bates

    2010: housing benefit cuts won't increase homelessness. 2011: cameron was told that it would and guess what? It did. //bit.ly/lHks5v

  39. LESPN

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap //ow.ly/1dBwaW

  40. Selohesra

    For once I agree with Leon – I’ve posted things here (sometimes tongue in cheek) that was counter to the lefty beliefs of the sites founders. I’ve never been censored – it is actually a very fair site. I do tend to agree with the first comment – and if rents are capped rather than create homelessness I think the likely outcome will be for these rents to be forced down.

  41. Homelessness and Non-Linear Money « Decline of the Logos

    […] not the approach taken by the Government. Instead of raising wages, they’ve opted to raise need. I agree with the benefits cap – it’s a necessary step to take to ensure that the […]

  42. Pickles leak lays bare consequences of health, welfare and localism bills | Left Foot Forward

    […] print, but for everyone but the most well informed, it was written in invisible ink. Until the Pickles leak disrupted Cameron’s slick PR machine, the government would have us believe there is no […]

  43. Leon Wolfson

    Well;

    You’d need to combine it with a tax on unoccupied properties to stop people from simply withdrawing homes from the market. But it does try to tackle the root cause and not the symptoms.

    I’d also study the renting systems of the mid-European countries, and institute a better form of tenure in rented houses than Assured Shorthold Tenancies. (I have no problem with people who don’t pay being thrown out in 2 months, but I DO have a problem with it being used on ANY tennants)

  44. Rupert Oliver

    Pickles letter to Cameron reveals inconvenient truth on benefits cap | Left Foot Forward //fb.me/176zkqfMX

  45. Dave Citizen

    I too agree with Leon – funding private landlords thorugh the tax system makes no sense, especially when the rising rents that result have the effect of making our workforce (or potential workforce) more expensive and our economy less competitive.

    When surplus capital spills out of the productive economy we need policies to ensure it gets reinvested in productive activity, not in housing. Quite right Leon: we desperately need a tax on empty property and land to bring these assets back into use and discourage treating them as ‘investment banks’ for surplus capital.

  46. Boris fighting London's corner on housing benefit cuts? Really?! | Left Foot Forward

    […] evidence emerging from Westminster City Council and Eric Pickle’s office has further undermined the government’s case for its benefit caps and […]

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