Camden: A London for the rich

Camden’s Labour council has told 761 households they will have to leave their homes after changes to housing benefit. According to the council, the ConDem benefit cap will mean a maximum of £175 housing benefit per week for three-children families. 2,816 adults and children have been told they can no longer afford to live in Camden – or anywhere in South East England. Councillors are already planning for the removal of the poor, to towns up to 200 miles away. Other Labour-run London councils are making similar plans. Louis Brehony reports.

With the fourth highest rents in the country, private interests and state benefit cuts are conspiring to make sure that those on benefits don’t stand a chance in Camden. Even before the new benefit cap comes into effect, average private rent in Camden is £445 per week and local housing allowances are £300-£340 a week for two and three bedroom homes. Families will have to find £90 more per week in order to pay their rent, a virtually impossible task.

Labour leader Sarah Hayward ex­presses her council’s ‘concern’ about the ConDem benefit cuts, saying Camden council will ‘deal with the fallout of this policy as more people present themselves as homeless but sadly the only long-term solution for some households will be to move.’ In other words Labour will collaborate with the government to enforce its social cleansing policy. The council will ‘explore out-of-borough housing options’ as far north as Bradford, where 20,000 people are already waiting on housing lists. A single mother of four children was given the ‘offer’ of being uprooted by Camden Council to Liverpool. She told The Guardian, ‘I want to stay where I am for my children’s education. What it seems like is the government just want London for the rich. They want to move people on benefits to poor areas.’

Other Labour-run London councils are also preparing to expel some of their poorest inhabitants. Haringey council is one of four preparing to ‘test’ the government’s benefit cuts, drawing up plans for ‘temporary accommodation’ and for 1,000 families to be moved to ‘lower-cost areas outside of London’. Brent council has ‘assessed the costs of procurement in different areas of the country such as the Midlands – including Coventry and Birmingham. We have procured properties so far in Luton, Slough, High Wycombe and Hertfordshire.’ 1,000 Brent households will lose £400 a month. Cutbacks, privatisation and social cleansing go hand in hand.

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 232 April/May 2013