Hackney councillor says cuts are ‘social cleansing’

29 Nov , 2012  


Image courtesy of Paparutzi, Flickr

Hundreds of Hackney residents will be forced out of London in a form of social cleansing if the government’s new benefits cap on families goes ahead, a Hackney councillor has warned.

Labour councillor Michael Desmond said there will be an exodus of families from Hackney if plans to impose a £500-a-week cap on benefits is implemented in April. He also claimed that the policy will have severe effect on the Hackney community.

He said: “There will be, over time, an exodus, and that will have repercussions for teachers, for schools and even child care and social services. I’m not quite sure even Conservative MPs quite understand the impact this will have.”

Accusing the government of being misguided, Mr Desmond said the £26,000-a-year benefits cap will lead to children being kicked out of their schools and will hit those with large families especially hard.

“What’s coming in April and is absolutely disgraceful and I’m absolutely furious about it. Once you take off child benefits, income support, child tax credits and everything else, you look at what’s left and there’s about £120-130 to pay the rent.

“There’s nothing you can rent in Hackney for that amount, so that will push all of these people out of the borough into places like Barking and probably much further. It is a form of social cleansing.”

The £500-a-week cap is being introduced by the government as a way of encouraging people off benefits and into work in order to reduce the welfare bill.

Although Mr Desmond accepts the government’s aim of moving people away from a culture of dependency and into work, he said imposing the same cap for those in Hackney as other parts of Britain, where the cost of rent is considerably cheaper, will have a “disastrous” impact.

“What they should have done is said that in Hackney, and London generally, the rents are obviously much higher and so you can’t treat them the same way as Derby, Nottingham where rents are much cheaper”, said Mr Desmond.

He continued: “For those who can’t get a job right now you’re just essentially kicking them out of London, the kids will be kicked out of their school, the whole thing is absolutely disastrous. I am so worried about it.”


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