Labour today warned there will be further instances of London councils seeking to export families north as the government's welfare reforms begin to bite.
Labour today warned there will be further instances of London councils seeking to export families to the North as the national government’s welfare reforms begin to bite.
In a letter to today’s Guardian, Labour’s housing spokesperson Nicky Gavron AM said the Tories, at City Hall and in Whitehall, were “out of touch with housing reality”, writing:
“Boris Johnson said there would be no ‘social cleansing’ on his watch. But now the government is facing incontrovertible evidence that its reforms, which Johnson ‘absolutely’ supports, will lead to just that.
“Where Newham is going, inevitably others will be forced to follow. Labour MP Karen Buck said this is just ‘the tip of the iceberg’. She is right. The housing benefit caps are being phased in over this year for existing tenants, many of whom are in work. Next April will see the introduction of the total benefit cap, which will have a devastating impact on many London families.
“At the same time, this government will peg the level of housing allowance to the consumer prices index (CPI) instead of local market rent. This means that, in the face of London’s inflation-busting rent rises, housing benefit will cover less and less.”
The consequences, Gavron says, are “stark”, concluding:
“A report commissioned by Shelter showed (pdf) that by 2016 only 20% of inner London neighbourhoods will be affordable to claimants. In outer London, the percentage falls from 79% in 2010 to 44% by 2016.
“That is why councils are being forced to find accommodation elsewhere, placing intolerable strain on a range of overburdened local services in both outer London and other parts of the country.
“Ken Livingstone says he will campaign as mayor for a higher benefit cap in London to reflect the high cost of housing. We also need a comprehensive impact assessment of these reforms on the increase in social segregation in London and other cities.”
• Housing will define the London Mayoral election 12 Sep 2011
Elsewhere today, two days out from polling day, Labour’s London Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone reached out to Liberal Democrats, urging them to give him their second preferences.
His team pointed out:
• It is clear that Londoners who have previously voted Liberal Democrat could make the difference at this election;
• At the 2010 General election, 751,561 Londoners voted Liberal Democrat;
• At the 2008 London Mayoral election, 878,097 Londoners voted Liberal Democrat;
• In 2008 Ken Livingstone got 303,000 2nd preferences. Of these, the bulk were LibDem votes, who had 237,000 transfers after Brian Paddick dropped out, about as many as all the other candidates combined who fell in the first round. A similar pattern was evident in both 2004 and 2000. LibDem voters switched to the other progressive candidate in the race who was closest to their politics- Ken Livingstone.
• Both Brian Paddick and Ken Livingstone are in favour of cutting fares. They are also both in favour of restoring cuts in police numbers made by the Tory mayor Boris Johnson. By contrast, he is the only major candidate who is in favour of hiking fares and cutting police numbers.
And in an email to London Lib Dem voters, Livingstone wrote:
“The Conservative candidate, Boris Johnson, is the only one of the main candidates not calling for a fares cut. If you want to see a fairer London where we help people in hard times then you need to use your vote carefully to make sure the Tories don’t get away with it this week.
“I hope you will consider giving me your first or second preference on Thursday.”