Tory leader suggests struggling people 'should consider leaving Brent'

Cllr Suresh Kansagra

Cllr Suresh Kansagra - Credit: Archant

The leader of Brent Conservatives has suggested those struggling to pay their bills should consider moving out of the borough if they cannot afford to live there. 

Cllr Suresh Kansagra comments at last week’s full council meeting drew groans from his Labour counterparts as he responded to the proposed budget for 2022/23. 

He also suggested refugees should be housed in other parts of the country so as not to worsen Brent’s housing crisis. 

Cllr Kansagra said: “People with their own houses, if they lose some income, they have to downsize. And if they can’t even afford that, they move out. So why is it that people on housing benefit still have to stay in Brent?

“Taking into account also when immigrants who come to this country as refugees – [and] I am one of them. When they come to this country they should first stay in the country next to where they come from.”

He added that if immigrants do settle in the UK, they should not immediately be housed in London. 

He said: “When the Ugandan Asians came to this country, they were dispersed to where housing was available. 

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“Like in the new towns – Telford, Hemel Hempstead, Welwyn Garden City. Then, eventually, some of them made their way to London [under] their own steam. 

Cllr Kansagra acknowledged those who are “fleeing for their lives” should be supported, but suggested London, and Brent, should not always be the first port of call.   

It came as his party proposed its alternative budget for Brent for 2022/23, which was ultimately rejected by the majority Labour council. 

As part of the Conservative budget there were plans to remove the council’s “landlord incentive”, which rewards landlords for renting out their properties to those who have been evicted or might not be able to afford to live in the borough. 

Cllr Kansagra suggested this is the wrong approach to take to help tackle the housing crisis and that removing such a scheme would save the council £1.8 million. 

He has been contacted for comment to clarify his comments from the meeting.