Councils planning homeless exodus from London

Local authorities in London are preparing to send thousands of homeless families to live in temporary homes outside the capital, according to a survey conducted by the Guardian newspaper. This would be in defiance of official guidance that people should continue to be housed locally.

Out of the 33 London local authorities contacted by the newspaper, 17 said they were already placing homeless families outside the capital, or had secured or were considering temporary accommodation outside London for future use. Councils have acquired rental properties as far away as Northampton, and are considering accommodation in places such as Manchester, Hull and south Wales.

The councils reportedly say the move is inevitable because there is virtually no suitable private rented temporary accommodation for larger families in London that is affordable within government-imposed housing benefit allowances, which are capped at £400 a week.

Government guidance issued in May 2012 says councils must 'as far as is reasonably practicable' offer accommodation for homeless families within the borough.

The Guardian findings appear to contradict recent comments by the welfare reform minister Lord Freud in a speech to landlords. He conceded that in some cases people may have to leave up their existing homes as a result of government reforms, but claimed they will not have to move far – and that 'most areas of London' are still affordable within the local housing allowance cap levels.

Source: The Guardian, 4 November 2012 | Speech by Lord Freud to National Landlords Association, 31 October 2012
LinksGuardian report | Freud speech | Inside Housing report