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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 February 2013

Stop social cleansing: Cap rents, not benefits

Paul Kershaw

Camden council in London has announced plans to move poorer families out of the capital to places as far away as Bradford, Leicester and Birmingham, saying it can no longer afford to house them.

Camden is contacting 761 households, 2,817 people, who may be affected by the government's benefit cap, which will limit total welfare payments to 500 a week for families later this year.

The Labour council warns that most of these families have three children and will need to find on average an additional 90 a week for rent to remain in their homes when the cap comes in.

Camden say they regret the move. But rather than acting to protect working class people by launching a mass campaign against the cuts and setting a budget based on the needs of the community, they are implementing a policy of social cleansing.

Other London councils are developing similar plans and four (Haringey, Enfield, Croydon and Bromley) will be trialling the new arrangements from April. Westminster has estimated that 2,327 local families will be hit.

A single mother was quoted in the press saying: "I want to stay where I am for my children's education. What it seems like is the government just want London for the rich."

Benefit myths

It is not even the case that people's problems will ease when families are forced out. Bradford points out that it has 20,000 people waiting for social housing, 10% overcrowding in some areas, and a severe shortage of school places, especially in the areas where these families are likely to end up.

The government has defended the policy saying: "It's not right that benefit claimants can receive higher incomes than families who are in work..." repeating the false idea that claimants are not workers. But the benefits system has become a mechanism for subsidising low-paying employers.

It is true that rents in inner London are sky high - rents of three bedroom homes in Camden are at least double the government's maximum welfare payment of 340 a week for such properties in north London. But it's landlords, not tenants, who get rich.

If your job is in London it's likely that a rent that was once affordable has become unaffordable as rent increases outstrip wage increases.

The average rent in London increased by 6.7% last year. A minimum emergency step would be to cap rents instead of benefits. Most European and North American cities control rent.

Fighting councillors

Two Labour councillors in Southampton have stood up for working class people by refusing to implement cuts but have been expelled from Labour.

No councillors in Camden have had the courage to stand up against cuts and social cleansing.

Support Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate John Reid (regional secretary of London Transport for the RMT transport workers union) in the Camden council byelection on 14 March as a voice against cuts and social cleansing.


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In The Socialist 20 February 2013:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Toxic Tories - Time to fight their cuts and lies

Government on the back foot after workfare ruling

Stop social cleansing: Cap rents, not benefits

Food adulteration - government cutbacks and capitalist profits

Self-regulation: 'Like having the burglars install your locks'

Bosses take tax liberties

Action needed to end caste discrimination

Free trade agreement means NHS privatisation

Them & Us

Southampton feature

Fighting for a real alternative to cuts

Councillors' contempt exposed

International socialist news and analysis

South Africa: Democratic Socialist Movement conference

Kazakhstan: Vadim Kuramshin faces 12-year jail sentence after appeal denied

Socialist Party workplace news

PCS branch supports 24-hour general strike call

Prison officers protest outside parliament

No pay cuts at Thera!

Tyne & Wear metro cleaners up the ante

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Mid Staffs hospital scandal: Cuts, PFI and big business to blame

Coventry: 'We need to fight now to save our services'

Getting organised can change things for low-paid workers

Caerphilly says 'bring back our A&E!'

Save our Services demo in Newcastle attracts 3,000

Carlisle: Demands to 'tax the rich' hit a nerve

London NHS

Socialist Students holds first North West conference

Nepal: The forgotten revolution

Socialist Party campaigning news

Socialist Party review

Review: "It's time to take over the banks"


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