Community groups and campaigners in Brent unite to take action on welfare reforms

Brent CAB are warning the cuts will have a devastating effect on the borough

Brent CAB are warning the cuts will have a devastating effect on the borough - Credit: Archant

Brent Housing Action Group plans to ‘support one another to fight against cuts to vital benefits’

Community groups and campaigners have joined forces to take action on the housing and benefits crisis soon to sweep the borough.

Brent Housing Action Group was formed last night which according to their website, will “support friends, neighbours and one another to fight against cuts to vital benefits and the threat to homes and communities.”

The action group will host regular meetings to discuss campaigns and will pledge to fight any evictions of tenants who fall into rent arrears.

Robin Sivapalan, who coordinated the meeting, told the Times now was the time to take action following the government’s introduction of various cost saving measures on April 1.

He said: “With the cuts to benefits and legal aid beginning to take their toll the only option for some people is to move out of London.”

Last week the Times reported that cuts under the Welfare Reform Act were set to impact thousands of the borough’s most vulnerable residents.

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The so called “bedroom tax”, which will see a reduction in benefits if claimants have a spare room could affect around 2,400 residents.

The council admitted they could rule out evictions but were instead trying to encourage residents to swap properties.

Mr Sivapalan added: “We agreed to campaign on a number of other issues including bringing in rent controls and putting pressure on the council to ensure no evictions take place.”

Brent Fightback, the borough’s anti-cuts campaign group and Brent Community Law Centre (CLC), which offers free legal advice, were among the organisations present at yesterday’s launch, as well as representatives from Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group.

Brent Citizens Advise Bureau (CAB) has also pledged their support.

Brent CLC previously warned that the £350m cut to legal aid, which was also rolled out on April 1, could force them to introduce charges for some of their services.

However, they have vowed to not charge for benefit and debt related cases.

Sujata Aurora, a member of Brent Fightback, who attended the meeting, said government policies were causing “very real suffering” for people in Brent.

She added: “The bedroom tax and the benefits cap threaten to divide and destroy our communities so there is an urgent need to take action.

“It was very positive to see so many individuals and organisations coming together. I hope we’ll be able to challenge the implementation of policies locally as well as joining with groups in other affected areas to campaign nationally.”

The department for work and pensions (DWP) claim the changes will make work pay, improve support for disabled people, and help ensure the benefit system is financially sustainable in the future, while still supporting those who need it.