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How are London's councils preparing for the benefits cap?

How are London's councils preparing for the benefits cap? Photo: REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Camden Council says cuts to housing benefit could mean more than 700 families will have to move out of London to another city. The local authority is exploring other housing options for the families, in cities like Leicester and Birmingham.

But how are London's other boroughs preparing for the benefits cap?

ITV London contacted all of the London councils to find out.

We received replies from 11 of them.

BRENT:

So far, 14 Brent households have had to relocate outside London to High Wycombe, Luton, Hertfordshire and Slough (as of January 2013), because of the effects of the housing benefit changes. Brent Council says it is continuing to support these tenants by giving them help to overcome any issues or problems with their private tenancy agreements. The council estimates that 2,100 people in Brent will be impacted by the welfare benefits cap and anticipates that more households will have to move. However, there is no indication of how many of them will move leave the borough. Brent has assessed the costs involved in housing people in the Midlands, but no-one has been moved there.

ISLINGTON:

Islington Council says it does not have a precise figure for the number of households affected by housing benefit cuts, as it is still analysing the true extent of the cuts and discussing options with affected households. The council says that, as far as possible, it wants to avoid having to send families to accommodation outside of Islington, or London if that is not possible. The council is not currently looking at locations outside of London.

HACKNEY:

Hackney Council says it has no plans to secure accommodation outside of London.

BARNET:

Barnet Borough Council says there is currently a real pressure on all councils to find people private rented accommodation below the Local Housing Allowance cap. In the past, it says it has housed people outside of London at their request, but it is likely that in the future it will have to consider housing people outside of the capital if they are unable to afford to live in London.

KENSINGTON AND CHELSEA:

Kensington and Chelsea Council says it does not yet know how many households will have to move. The number of people affected by the benefits cap is approximately 550. Of these, approximately 300 people are in temporary accommodation.

BARKING AND DAGENHAM:

Barking and Dagenham Council says it anticipates that around 1,000 households, almost all of whom are in the private rented sector, will be impacted by the housing benefit cap. However, at this stage it is not making specific plans to move households out of London. The council says it is greatly concerned about the impact of the government’s welfare changes and may find that it has little alternative but to look outside London to meet its housing needs.

SUTTON:

Sutton Borough Council says no one has been moved out of the borough and there are no plans to do so.

MERTON:

Merton Council says it has no plans to place households outside of the borough.

LEWISHAM:

Lewisham Council says it continues to work with local registered social landlords and private landlords to maximise the housing options available to people in the borough, as well as working with the owners of privately-owned long-term empty properties to bring them back into use for social housing. The council says it is not considering moving any of its tenants outside the capital.

BROMLEY:

A spokesperson for Bromley Council said: “We are currently working through the latest DWP [Department of Work and Pensions] list of benefit claimants to ensure that we have identified all of those households who are likely to be affected by the benefit cap. We are not yet in a position to identify precise numbers. We are using this information to profile those affected to ensure that we are able to advise and assist those who are most vulnerable and with the highest level of reductions to their benefits. We have formed a task force involving Job Centre Plus, housing benefits and the housing team and are working together to contact every one of the households affected to ensure that they know what is happening and to help work out the best option for them which may be paying the difference where this is small, applying for a discretionary payment, getting job ready and into the jobs market or agreeing that they would have to move to cheaper accommodation.”

GREENWICH:

Greenwich Borough Council sent this statement: "The Royal Borough of Greenwich has balanced its budget for the next two years and is freezing its council tax for the sixth and seventh consecutive years. As part of the benefits for making early savings, the Royal Borough has identified a £6m employment fund to assist the families worst affected by benefit changes into work. We believe the only way to resolve the issues of poverty affecting these families is to support them into employment and that is the approach we are taking."