London councils pay out £41.5m in ‘incentives’ to private Landlords

Last year the Evening Standard reported on Z2K’s investigation into the growing use of ‘incentives’ by local authorities to secure private rented sector accommodation for homeless households, whether for use as temporary accommodation or to discharge their duty.

We had uncovered this practice through our own Private Rented Sector Access Scheme, where we work to find accommodation for individuals not entitled to statutory help. In a number of instances we had found affordable properties for our clients with Landlords willing to take them, only to be ‘outbid’ by a local authority offering an incentive for the property. Sometimes we would even find ourselves in the midst of a bidding war between two authorities, as each fought to secure the property by offering higher and higher amounts of money.  Continue reading

Benefit cap – ‘Real misery is being caused to no good purpose’

The Zacchaeus 2000 Trust welcomes today’s High Court ruling that the Benefit Cap unlawfully discriminates against lone parents with children under two years-old.  We hope this is the beginning of the end of a truly dreadful policy.  But given the Government’s swift announcement of its intention to appeal against the decision, thousands of lone parent families suffering this unlawful discrimination are still left facing severe financial hardship and homelessness while the legal tussle continues.  Continue reading

The Grenfell fire is a tragic reminder of why the voices of marginalised communities must be heard

Like so many people, I was horrified to wake up last Wednesday to learn about the fire at Grenfell Tower.  I was previously the Director at North Kensington Law Centre, and led the decision to move from our offices of 40 years in the Golborne Road, to the heart of the Lancaster West community into Baseline Studios.  A key part of the decision to do this was to be closer to the communities that most needed our legal help on housing, welfare benefits and immigration matters.  Knowing that many of our clients at NKLC were residents of Grenfell Tower left me extremely saddened by the news. Continue reading

Pimlico Advice Hub Case Study

Z2K is a partner in the Pimlico Advice Hub, along with the Cardinal Hulme centre and Westminster Foodbank, where we provide advice and support. The Hub is based in St Gabriel’s Hall on the Churchill Gardens estate in Pimlico. It was recently nominated for the best neighbourhood project award at the Westminster Community Awards.

Geoff and his partner approached the Hub in early 2016. The couple were facing eviction from their Council property due to rent arrears. The reason for this was that his Housing Benefit had stopped. They had recently started their own business, their own café. This had been their dream for years but the practicalities of starting the business had caused them many difficulties. They had had to take out a large loan to start up the business. As they couldn’t qualify for a business loan their bank had classified it as a personal loan. When the council realised they had the loan they stopped their Housing Benefit as it took them over the capital limits. The Council also made frequent and unnecessary requests pertaining to Geoff’s status as an EU national. Continue reading