FAMILIES are being uprooted from their council flats or housing association flats and ‘decanted’ hundreds of miles from their homes as areas of London are ‘socially cleansed’. If families refuse to move then they are kicked out onto the streets.
‘I didn’t have a choice in the matter, I had to move here, or be homeless,’ Lavonn Grant, a mum with a one-year-old daughter said after being moved 60 miles from her home.
In June, Redbridge Council in London demanded that she move 60 miles away to Canterbury in Kent, or get kicked out of social housing. She had been living in a studio flat in Redbridge Foyer in Ilford, a building used by the council to house young homeless people under the age of 22, but was given an eviction notice, along with its other residents, in April.
She says she asked to be housed in a local hostel or bed and breakfast, but was told none was available, leaving a move to Kent the only option. Her property there is located in a former army barracks, with homes for 147 families, which Redbridge Council has recently begun to lease.
Lavonn says the move has left her without a vital support network, her family.
‘It’s been really hard in Kent on my own, without my family. I feel so far from them and it’s really hard bringing up my daughter without any support, emotionally or financially. I’m currently unemployed as I don’t have anyone to look after my daughter – so I can’t go out to work.’
Roger Harding, director of policy and campaigns at the charity Shelter, says Lavonn’s situation is one his organisation hears ‘all too often’, with families ‘forced to wave goodbye not only to their home, but to schools, jobs, friends and family. We know the devastating impact this has on their lives. Tearing a family from their local area should always be the last resort.’
A Freedom of Information request in September 2015 showed 26 of 33 London councils moved homeless households to other parts of the South East of England. Eight councils moved people into temporary accommodation in the Midlands and the north of England, the figures showed.
Meanwhile, the Local Government Association called on the government to scrap its ‘pay to stay’ policy. The policy requires councils to charge their tenants near market rents from April 2017, if they earn over a certain threshold.
It comes as new analysis reveals that more than 70,000 social housing tenants could face rent rise bills of an average £1,000 a year from next year under government plans to increase rents for those deemed to be earning high incomes.