Homeless families in Brent face being sent to Coventry
14:05 15 November 2012
Housing Benefit changes will result in people being moved up to 100 miles away
Five facts about Coventry (pop: 316,900)
Of Coventry’s inhabitants, one in ten has Irish roots and there are significant new communities from Iraq, Poland, Zimbabwe and the Congo.
There are 120 languages spoken by children in Coventry schools.
Legend has it that nobleness Lady Godiva rode through the streets of Coventry naked on a horse in a protest against taxes more than 900 years ago.
William Shakespeare was said to have jilted a Coventry woman in the eve of their wedding to marry Anne Hathaway.
St George, dragon slayer and patron saint of England is claimed to have been born in Coventry.
Homeless families in Brent face being sent to Coventry when the Housing Benefit (HB) cap is rolled out next year.
Under the controversial measures, payments for private properties – including temporary accommodation provided by the council – will be capped at a maximum of £400 a week.
With soaring rents throughout Brent, and London as a whole, council chiefs will be forced to send families further afield unless they can make up the shortfall from their own pockets.
Under the new HB payments, which come into force in April, a family of two adults and three children requiring a four-bedroom home will have to move to Coventry to avoid any shortfall. Alternatively they can live in Birmingham or Swindon if they move to a three bedroom property.
The changes, part of the government’s Welfare Reform Act, have set the highest amount payable for a four-bedroom property at £400, £340 for three-bedroom homes, £290 for two-beds and £250 for one-bed.
If a family with two adults and two children living in Brent want to remain in the borough in a three-bed property they will have to supplement the HB payment by £47 a week to live in the north or £99 for the south.
With a majority of the families who seek housing from the council living on a low income or benefits, this may leave them in financially difficulties.
A family of two adults and four or more children face the greatest battle as there are no properties with more than four bedrooms available anywhere in England.
Brent Council has negotiated with some private landlords who have agreed to reduce their rents by up to 25 per cent but there is an estimated 2,600 families in the borough who will still be affected by the changes – the majority with three or more children.
Cllr Zaffar Van Kalwala, Labour councillor for Stonebridge, said: “We could see the creation of ghettoes where those on benefits are confined to living in mainly deprived areas. Children will have to move schools and keeping family and cultural ties may become difficult.
“These new proposals are going to be a total disaster for Brent.”
Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform, said: “The cost of paying Housing Benefit in the private rented sector has nearly doubled in a decade, so it’s only right that we introduce new reforms to get these spiralling costs under control.”