As part of their contract with Westminster Council Capita have been paying companies to conduct investigations into allegedly fraudulent housing benefit claims. Often these investigations have been triggered by people falling out with their neighbours or similar petty reasons. Most investigations rarely, if ever, lead to a prosecution. The stress caused to our clients is phenomenal.
Throughout the investigation our clients are lead to believe they cannot have a housing benefit claim. This often leads to threats of eviction and proceedings. Fraud investigations like to pretend that they have additional powers and rely on intimidation to coerce people to agree to the claims. Often the reasons for these claims are not fully explained to our clients, even when they have a solicitor involved. Caseworkers from our organisation are not allowed to access vital information often until our client has signed a document ‘confessing’ their ‘crime’. Continue reading
London is of course one of the richest cities in the world but it is also home to more than 2.1 million people living in poverty. At 28% London’s poverty rate is seven percentage points higher than the rest of England and the capital is home to 592, 000 children living in poverty. In London poverty is not predominantly cause by unemployment (over half of those in poverty in London are in work), but by the combination of low wages and the high the cost of living.
Although there has been much talk of an economic recovery across the pages of the national media there has been no such recovery for London’s poor. If anything the continued onslaught of welfare ‘reform’, rising rents and prices alongside stagnant wages has led to reduction in the standard of living for our city’s poorest. Continue reading
Z2K was delighted to attend the Peter Ambrose Memorial Lecture in the House of Lords earlier this week. Professor Ambrose was Visiting Professor of Housing & Health at Brighton University. But perhaps more importantly, he is remembered for his determination to see the nation’s poorest communities better-housed. Those efforts won him life-long admirers in those communities themselves if not always winning friends in the corridors of power.
I first came across Peter’s work nearly 20 years ago when, Oona King, gave me a copy of his seminal study into housing conditions on the Limehouse Fields and Ocean estates in Stepney – I mustn’t laugh too much. Continue reading