Recently released statistics show that 1,621 families in the London boroughs of Bromley, Croydon, Haringey and Enfield have had benefits cut by over £50 a week meaning homelessness is virtually inevitable. A further thousand have lost up to £50 a week, which combined with other benefit changes means many of them will also also be unable to pay the rent.
Most of those having benefits capped are larger families and statistics show over 8000 children will be affected. Families are likely to be forced into temporary, and often more expensive, accommodation to await relocation elsewhere in the UK. According to the DWP themselves families are expected to head for the seaside towns in South East England or the Home Counties. A recently released report by London Councils (PDF) warned that the previously introduced cap on Housing Benefits may be responsible for rent rises in outer London boroughs as the social cleansing of central London pushes up demand for rented properties to the outskirts.
The statistics were released in the week that it was revealed bungling DWP officials are spending £1.3 million a month administering the cap. A rough analysis of the figures suggests it is saving about a million a month so far. That saving alone is likely to be wiped out by the cost of temporarily housing these homeless families, without the social costs of these lives destroyed or the impact on local services wherever they eventually end up.
This Government is spending money to make children homeless. Children who will not understand why they have to leave the house or flat they may have grown up in and move into a single room in a dismal B&B or hostel. Why they have to leave not just school but friends, grandparents, and other family members. Why they can no longer see a separated parent, or why mum cannot afford the astronomical public transport fares for them to maintain relationships with extended family members. The impact of homelessness followed by relocation on these children will be devastating and remain with them for a lifetime.
Tragically these 8000 children are just the beginning. The four boroughs in the pilot area already represent some of the cheapest rental areas in London. Between now and October the cap is being introduced nationwide. According to the Government 200,000 children are set to be affected.
Even then the cleansing of London and other Southern cities will continue as rents soar and Housing Benefit rises are pegged at 1%. Women who find themselves pregnant at some point in the future will also be hit and face a choice between homelessness or abortion.
The Benefit Cap means the safety net of the welfare state has disappeared for families in London and the cost of that will be 200,000 childhoods destroyed. As rents rise in other cities a similar exodus is likely to occur whilst for some very large families there will be nowhere cheap enough to go.
Whilst the Tories sing this brutal policy from the rooftops children will go hungry and homeless as the Government takes revenge on their so-called feckless parents. And feckless means widows, disabled people, women fleeing domestic violence or parents unable to find a full time job that also allows them to also adequately care for young children or even new born babies. These children do not know that they are benefit scrounging scum. And when they see their mother’s crying as much loved family homes are abandoned they will not be able to comprehend the cruelty that has brought those tears.
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