Sunday, 31 October 2010

BBC News - Housing benefit cap to price London's poor away - Shelter

31 October 2010 Last updated at 03:59

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Housing benefit cap to price London's poor away - Shelter

Housing estate Housing benefit payments will be capped at £290 a week for a two-bedroom property

The majority of two-bedroom properties in London will be beyond the reach of housing benefit claimants once new limits on payments are introduced, according to charity Shelter.

It says a study, done by Cambridge University, shows that much of the capital, including many of the suburbs, will become "largely unaffordable".

The government has accused critics of its reforms of "scaremongering".

But Labour say they will force a vote in Parliament on the plans.

Under the proposals, housing benefit payments would be capped at a maximum of £400 a week, with an upper limit of £290 per week for a two-bedroom flat.

'Poverty and inequality'

The Department of Work and Pensions says nearly two-thirds of housing benefit tenants will be no worse off, or will face a gap of £10 or less a week between their rent and their benefits.

However, official figures also suggest that one in 10 households will face shortfall of £30 or more a week.

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  • £250 for a one-bedroom property
  • £290 for a two-bedroom property
  • £340 for a three-bedroom property
  • £400 for a four-bedroom property

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said the study showed how reforms would "change the make-up of London" and would affect outer boroughs as well as those in the inner city.

"We are concerned this could mean tens of thousands of households forced from the centre, creating concentrations of poverty and inequality," he added.

This week, London Mayor Boris Johnson was criticised after he told a radio station he would "not accept any kind of Kosovo-style social cleansing of London" as a result of the reforms.

"I'll emphatically resist any attempt to recreate a London where the rich and poor cannot live together," he said.

Mr Johnson said he had been quoted out of context, but Business Secretary Vince Cable accused him of using "inflammatory language".

Prime Minister David Cameron said the government would still be "prepared to pay up to £20,000 a year" in housing benefit to families, adding: "I don't think it will be necessary for anybody to go without a home."