Westminster families could be moved to the Midlands
23 January, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya
Westminster North MP Karen Buck: ‘Is Westminster City Council right to expect other local authorities across the South-east and as far as the Midlands to take on the responsibility of housing as well as providing education and social care for London’s people in housing need?’
FAMILIES in Westminster who have lost their homes could be sent to live as far out as the Midlands under new plans by the council.
The Labour group has slammed the plans that they say could force families to accept a privately rented flat and would, in turn, lead to Westminster Council no longer being responsible for finding them a permanent home.
Labour group leader Cllr Adam Hug said: “This council’s decades-long atrocious record on building social and genuinely affordable homes combined with the government’s insidious benefit changes have created a perfect storm for Westminster residents in desperate need for temporary accommodation.”
Independent research commissioned by the council on the best opportunities to acquire affordable private rented properties suitable for families in need of temporary housing identified key areas that “presented the best opportunities”. These included Leicester, Birmingham and Coventry as well as the South- east, Slough and Maidenhead.
The research, as set out in the cabinet member report on homeless policies, also found options in Westminster and London as a home were “very limited”. The plans would group residents in terms of need, with those who have care needs in band 1, most likely to be housed locally, families who have children taking exams and those with long-term work in Westminster, in band 2, eligible for housing in greater London and everyone else in band 3, to be housed elsewhere in the country.
Westminster North MP Karen Buck raised the issue in the House of Commons, where she asked: “Is Westminster City Council right to expect other local authorities across the South-east and as far as the Midlands to take on the responsibility of housing as well as providing education and social care for London’s people in housing need?”
Cllr Daniel Astaire, cabinet member for housing, regeneration, business and economic development at Westminster City Council, said: “Difficult choices are inescapable. While we always try to provide accommodation for homeless people in Westminster, like many other boroughs of all political persuasions we have to look at identifying suitable homes beyond the city’s boundaries.
“The lack of affordable properties in Westminster and London means that many of these private rented offers will have to be outside London.”