Letter published in The Independent, 26th April 2012:
The reckless forced migration of tenants out of London, to who knows where, creates costs for the taxpayer and to the wider economy that the Treasury never estimates (“Plans to house London’s poor in Stoke attacked as ‘social cleansing“, 25 April).
Educational under-achievement has been shown to be more likely as a result of the destabilisation of children’s lives. Deliberate overcrowding to make the rent fit the caps is also likely to lead to more aggressive behaviour both in the classroom and on the streets as young people compete for space and lose some elements of parental and kinship control. Children losing local circles of friends and adjusting to new schools also disrupts educational progress.
The housing benefit caps create unmanageable rent arrears. The stress of the parents in debt is known to affect the children. Debt is related to mental illness, which the Centre for Mental Health has shown is the most expensive illness for the NHS, the economy and in human misery.
There are social and economic consequences in the break-up of well-established local three-generational family structures, as was discovered in the mass movement from the East End to the new towns in the early 1960s. That movement was planned and new affordable housing was ready for the tenants.
This time the lack of any coherent housing policy for the past 40 years means the demand for affordable housing far outstrips the supply; no affordable homes were planned for the new homeless. They face a life of impoverished uncertainty of which Parliament should be ashamed.
Stephen Battersby, Chair, Pro-Housing Alliance, Past President, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
Peter Archer, Chair, Care & Repair England
Professor Peter Ambrose, University of Brighton
The Rev Paul Nicolson, Chair, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust