This week, the Independent newspaper highlighted the significant rise in homeless families being out of London, largely due to rent increases and rising housing prices. A report released by local authority figures revealed that the number of families rehoused beyond the city’s outskirts rose 27% in 2014/15 compared to the previous year. The magazine Inside Housing purported that this exodus is being driven by increased competition for temporary accommodation in London, especially in Eastern boroughs such as Shoreditch, Hackney and Stratford. Another organization, London Councils, reported that there had been 1,653 placements outside the capital in 2014/15 compared to 1,292 in 2013/14 and 637 in 2012/13.
Sadiq Khan, an MP for the Labour Party, told the Guardian newspaper that ”the Government’s policies on welfare and housing have caused social cleansing in London on a vast scale.” It has also been revealed that in April, over 50,000 families had been silently shipped out their home London boroughs in the past three years, with many being rehoused outside of the capital entirely. Most people who have been born or have grown up in London are facing the stark reality of no longer being to live in London as they are no longer able to afford it.
Local authorities have a legal duty to rehouse people who became homeless, but with squeezed budgets and soaring housing costs in the capital this is becoming a complicated task. This task has been exacerbated by the Government’s benefits cap, which has slashed the amount of benefits that can be claimed by one family to £23,000 in London. This trend of shifting homeless people to places outside of their home boroughs or outside of the capital does not seem to be slowing down, as long as the Government is continuing to cut benefits to families already struggling to afford increasing rent and housing prices. This looks to be especially true of boroughs in East London, which saw a 65% leap in homeless families in 2 years.
Is this the future of London? Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn also argued that the Government’s welfare cuts and changes has led to social cleansing of the capital. He said that the families subject to the benefits decrease ”cannot get enough money to pay the rent.” Fellow Labour MP Andy Burnham also waded in to the issue, and blamed the housing crisis on Right to Buy, which in his opinion had undermined the social housing stock. As long as the current Government are in power for the next 5 years, we may see this trend of what some might call ”social cleansing” increase, leading to a future London with more de-diversified households and fewer families.