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Social cleansing Tory-style: housing benefit cap plus bedroom tax

On 6 April, the start of the new financial year, on exactly the same day that 14,000 millionaires in the UK get a £40,000 per year rise in their net income from the abolition of the 50% rate of income tax, thousands of Britain’s poorest people will be forced then or soon after out of their homes by swingeing Tory cutbacks in housing benefit.

Tory-run Westminster Council estimate 2,327 households will be hit and forced to move. Camden is contacting 761 households, comprising 2,816 adults and children, who they believe will be unable to afford their current accommodation or any other home in the south-east. The majority of these families have 3 children, and once the cap is imposed, they will need to find on average an additional £90 a week to remain in their homes. It is very unlikely that any will be able to do so. Where will they go?

Camden Council had had to look as far afield as Bradford, Birmingham and Leicester for alternative affordable accommodation. They believe that as many as 900 children, more than one on average for every class in the borough, will consequently have their education uprooted. Some London Councils have gone so far as to start buying properties outside the south-east to accommodate these outcasts. Brent, where 1,100 households will lose £100 a week once the weekly benefit cap is introduced, has been procuring properties in the West Midlands as well as Luton, Slough, High Wycombe and Hertfordshire.

The bedroom tax, which cuts housing benefit by 14% if Cameron believes you have an extra bedroom and by 25% if you have two, is expected to cause the eviction of a further 660,000 households. In Hull, for example, this new tax will hit 4,700 families and it will be applied even though a third of the victims are disabled. There are cases already in Liverpool and Hartlepool where a child has died, but the families are now having cuts imposed on them because of the empty rooms. Most of these families will find it next to impossible to find lower-rent accommodation within their reach when there are already 1.8 million households on Council waiting lists.

Quite apart from the callousness and cruelty of this Tory social cleansing, this whole issue is exacerbated by the utter collapse of the housebuilding programme. Last year only some 95,000 houses were built, the lowest figure sine 1923 and less than half the number needed to accommodate the total of new households being formed. Last year building fell by 9%, though homelessness grew by 30%. Yet developers are holding enough land to build half a million homes, waiting for the price to rise, finding it more profitable not to build.

(Image credit: pzaxe / 123RF Stock Photo)

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