CAMPAIGNERS and housing charities yesterday condemned ‘social cleansing’ of low income families as it emerged that more than 50,000 families have been quietly moved out of London boroughs in the past three years.
Leaked documents obtained by the Independent newspaper show as many as 500 families a week, who cannot afford to find homes in their local area as a result of the housing benefit cap, the ‘bedroom tax’ and soaring rents, are being ‘decanted’ from their neighbourhoods to accommodation further and further away from the capital.
Jasmin Parsons of the ‘Our West Hendon’ campaign which is fighting evictions in Barnet, told News Line: ‘We’ve another court case today about (private developer) Barnet Homes seeking to evict one of the unsecured tenants onto the street.
‘The problem is, once people are removed from the the council tenancies list, they can move them out of London without anyone being aware of it.
‘Investors and developers are pushing this and they are getting plenty of help from councils.
‘And London Mayor Boris Johnson is relaxing laws and encouraging this.
‘The Tory government is changing the law to allow all the council properties to be pulled down and not replaced, except by private developments.
‘The continued cuts to housing benefit, zero-hours contracts and part-time jobs are contributing to the unaffordability of homes and a lack of secure homes.
‘It’s time everybody took action to stop this theft of land and property.’
In 2010, Johnson had vowed that welfare ‘reforms’ would not lead to ‘Kosovo-style social cleansing’.
He claimed then: ‘You are not going to see thousands of families evicted from the place where they have been living.’
But official figures show that some 2,707 families have been moved out of Greater London over the last two years, to locations including Manchester, Bradford, Hastings, Pembrokeshire, Dover and Plymouth.
London Councils, the representative body for London’s 32 boroughs, which collects data on out-of-borough placements, has never made the figures public.
But among leaked document, one shows that in just three months last year, a record-breaking 5,437 families were moved out of borough.
Councils ‘decanted’ 49,789 families between July 2011 and July 2014.
Housing charity Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb slammed ‘the sheer volume of homeless families being uprooted and sent miles away from their local area’.
He told News Line: ‘It’s the housing shortage that has created this crisis, and the only way to escape it for good is for the next government to build the affordable homes we so desperately need.