I can’t for the life of me understand why everyone (mainly in the media) is making such a big fuss over Newham Council’s decision to try and move people that they don’t have the room for in to empty houses elesewhere. It actually seems like an incredibly sensible idea!
Obviously the journos have made a right hash of it, suggesting (I’ve seen it in the Times, Metro and Indy) that Newham have rung up Stoke and said here’s 500 people we don’t want. That’s clearly not the reality. In fact they wrote to thousands of councils up and down the country. Stoke was picked out by the media to drag up relocation as a moral issue as it is the furthest from London. Newham is one of the poorest councils in the country and at the minute spends vast sums of money putting these people up in private rentals and B&Bs, whilst the prices of such accomodation rocket due to increasing demand; due to both the upcoming Olympics and the number of people having to move to the area as they can no longer afford to live in the centre of London.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps told the Today programme: “Not only do I think it’s unfair and wrong, I’ve also made legislation and guidance that says they are not to do this.” Explain to me Grant, how is it wrong to offer people the council houses that they have been waiting for? How is it unfair to say that taxpayers should not have to fund extortionate private rental prices when there is housing available elsewhere?
He also said: “It can’t be right to have people on housing benefit living on streets which hard-working families cannot afford to live on.” Exactly the point Grant, and pretty much a direct contradiction of the previous quote! Why should taxpayers be paying for people to live in nice private housing for free, when many hard-working families can’t afford to pay for themselves!! I think Mr. Shapps has this wrapped around his head a bit.
Why is relocation such a big deal? Firstly, it’s been happening for a long time; that’s why most of the London suburbs exist! There are not enough homes in the City of London for everyone who works there, so they were displaced to other areas and homes were built elsewhere; that’s the only reason places like Milton Keynes exist! As well as that most of these families are from the very poorest groups and are unemployed. They don’t work in London, so why do they need to be there? In reality they will benefit from moving to areas where the cost of living is lower, and seeing as Newham is one of the poorest areas of the country they will probably get a better standard of living elsewhere.
I can’t believe how many politicians have decided to jump on this bandwagon (including Boris, sadly). If it means that people get the council housing that they need then that’s great. The issue is not with relocating people outside of London; the issue is with helping those people to contribute to their new communities!