Social cleansing in Kensington

Up to 10,000 people may be moved out of the borough unless Kensington and Chelsea Council takes immediate action. Cuts planned by the Conservative/LibDem coalition government to Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance and Temporary Accommodation subsidy will hit over 4,000 households, many of whom will have to find an extra £100 a week or more to stay in their homes – or face eviction. Labour councillors called on the Conservative-run Council to condemn their government’s indefensible proposals at the Council meeting on 13 October.

Labour has been warning since February that the Tories’ proposed cuts would mean the enforced migration of many of the poorest residents out of the borough to ‘low demand’ (ie cheaper) parts of London – or out of London – but were accused of scaremongering. However LibDem Deputy Leader Simon Hughes has recently admitted that the government’s housing benefit cuts mean ‘we might have to send people to cheaper parts, even if they don’t like it’.

Cllr Tim Coleridge, the Tory Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing said: ‘people will have to move to find alternative homes that they can afford’. This has all been confirmed in a report to the September Housing, Health and Adult Social Care Committee, which concluded: ‘The potential for central London and the Royal Borough to effectively become a residential no-go for anybody on a low income looking to rent is real .. [including] long-standing families who may have lived in the borough all of their lives’.

So, has the Council carried out a social equality impact assessment on this policy as required by legislation? Do they realise it is against their own Community Strategy and equality scheme ‘Towards an Inclusive Kensington and Chelsea’?

Councillor Emma Dent Coad, Housing Spokesperson for the Labour Group, stated: ‘The poorest people, including many women and ethnic minority groups, will be worst hit. It will disrupt the lives and education of thousands of children, and force keyworkers to seek jobs elsewhere. This is blatant social cleansing.’

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