Yesterday we held an event in conjunction with 4in10 (a Save the Children initiative which campaigns to reduce London poverty) exploring the effects of reductions to Housing Benefits on London. Speaking at the event were Camila Batmanghelidjh, of Kids Company, Karen Buck MP, Jenny Jones AM, the Green Party’s mayoral candidate, Nigel Minto, of London Councils, and our own Joanna Kennedy.
(Camila Batmanghelidjh, Karen Buck MP, Romin Sutherland [Z2K's Housing Benefit Expert], Jenny Jones AM, Joanna Kennedy)
(Jenny Jones AM, Rev. Paul Nicolson [our Chairman], Camila Batmanghelidjh)
As announced in today’s Guardian, Z2K are launching a dedicated advice line and casework service, NextDoor, that will help people forced to migrate to and settle in more affordable areas.
The event was extremely well attended by a number of people from Local Government and the Third Sector. While the atmosphere was glum, given the likely negative effects these policies will have on vulnerable people in London, in the discussion groups a number of positive potential policies were formulated.
Dave Hill has written about the event on his blog. On it he transcribed a section of Camilla’s speech:
There are many young people who have had to flee their family home from a very young age, and they are prematurely living independently – on their own, without family support. What is very, very important is to understand the implication of this cap in relation to some of those young people.
The truth is that a six-foot boy without a job, without prospects of employment is going to find it very hard to rent a room in a house. Very few people are going to rent their space to such a young person – male or female. They will be worried about whether the person can sustain the bills, what kind of entourage of friends the person is likely to have and bring into the house. And those are legitimate anxieties in the context of some of the challenges that our young people are enduring at street level.
I suspect that we are going to be at the edge of an enormously risky situation, as more and more vulnerable young people aren’t going to be able to rent places to live, or find accommodation. I think it is imperative for government to wake up to the special needs of lone young people. I think the riots of the summer, whatever narrative you put on it, whether you blame the police or anyone else, were profoundly about revenge – about young people’s revenge about society, because they felt so powerless and so not thought about.
Moving forward, I think these caps run the risk of leaving out yet again the special needs of vulnerable young people…they present [themselves for help] with great bravado, and they survive by appearing tough, but fundamentally they are some of the most sensitive individuals in our community, enduring a period of flux both economic and emotional, often on their own, and who do deserve out support.