‘Doors closing on housing benefit claimants’ London Assembly report

housingcrisis1Today’s publication of the London Assembly Housing Committee’s report on the consequences of welfare reform in the Capital is a surprisingly muted affair.  Most of the committee’s recommendations call for the Mayor to monitor this or the Government to review that – proposals which you will struggle to get much media interest in.  But it does highlight the four-fold increase in the number of homeless applications driven by the end of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy and finds that landlords are increasingly reluctant to let to those on Housing Benefit. Continue reading

Parents: Your chance to tell the mayoral candidates’ teams what life is like in London for families

Z2K has pledged support to a manifesto for a family friendly London along with a coalition of charities. To campaign for this an event has been organised for families to share thier concerns with members of the mayoral teams.

You’ll have your say, then hear about how candidates plan to improve access to childcare, housing, advice services, and flexible jobs – to help make up your mind before election day. Professionals who work with families also welcome.
Refreshments and childcare provided, just let us know when you register to attend.

It will be held from 5pm to 6pm on the 1st May at the Cardinal Hume Centre (Family Services entrance), Medway Street, London. SW1P 2BG.

Register online at www.familyfriendlylondon.org.uk

Comment on the Riots Communities and Victims Panel report

The following letter was published in the Guardian last week:

The Riots Communities and Victims Panel calls poverty a key factor that can lead to a person’s involvement in crime. The panel recommends that efforts are made to improve young people’s resistance to the peer pressure that leads them astray. That does not get to the bottom of the problem. Nowhere in the report is there any mention of the actual level of weekly income at which young people live in poverty.

A single unemployed parent has to live on a shrinking jobseeker’s allowance of £67.50 a week, or £53.45 for those aged 18-25, or on the national minimum wage, a poverty wage in London that is also shrinking. The word “debt”, and its debilitating effects on parents and children in poverty, never appears in the report. It damages nutrition, an essential ingredient of healthy babies and a good education, which is likewise ignored. Blaming the schools misses the target. Parliament needs to wake up to the fact that the current system of social security is not fit for purpose.

There will continue to be impoverished young people who, because survival and inequality are massive issues in this very expensive economy, will turn to crime.
Rev Paul Nicolson

Please sign our statement opposing benefit caps in London

The following statement will be sent to Peers considering the Welfare Reform Bill. Please sign it below no later than the 7th of January. Alternatively if you are an NGO and would like to add your name, inform us at benjenkins@z2k.org.

To Peers considering the Welfare Reform Bill.

A statement opposing benefit caps in London.

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Z2K Holds Housing Benefit Conference

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.

UPDATE

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.