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London's homeless in borough's care

PUBLISHED: 15:31 14 January 2008 | UPDATED: 14:07 02 July 2010

Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas

Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas

AROUND 1,000 homeless people are being housed in Barking and Dagenham by other London councils, the POST can reveal. The practice, apparantly fuelled by cheap rent in the borough, is helping to destabilise the community, the council claim. Dagenham MP Jo

AROUND 1,000 homeless people are being housed in Barking and Dagenham by other London councils, the POST can reveal.

The practice, apparantly fuelled by cheap rent in the borough, is helping to destabilise the community, the council claim.

Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas has complained that other boroughs are "driving a coach and horses" through regulations designed to limit numbers.

Now Town Hall bosses fear that even more temporary homeless could be on their way this year, placing greater strain on housing.

Government housing benefit subsidies to London councils will be cut by 10 per cent in 2008. This cash is used by town halls to place homeless people into temporary accommodation with private landlords.

Inner city boroughs, where accommodation is expensive, already place many of their cases in cheaper areas like Barking and Dagenham.

Now they are warning that the cuts could force them to house even more in cheaper boroughs.

Mr Cruddas has pledged to bring up the matter with Housing Minister Yvette Cooper when Parliament returns from winter recess this week.

He said: "There used to be a protocol with the Local Government Association where there was a limit on the amount of out of borough placements.

"There was a strict formula in terms of the numbers you could deposit in any one borough and there was a protocol in alerting the boroughs where you were going to place them.

"But there seems to have been a coach and horses driven through that in the past few years.

"We have gone to other boroughs and they have assured us they would resolve the situation. Now it looks like it could get worse."

A spokesman for the Council said the cuts would make the situation worse.

He said: "Although any loss in revenue is unwelcome, the announcement could have more serious implications for council's like ours in outer London, especially if inner London authorities place homeless cases here to take advantage of our lower rents.

"The problem is already rife in this borough, with around 1,000 homeless cases placed in temporary accommodation by other London boroughs, often without the support the cases need.

"With the practice contributing to destabilising communities by creating greater transience, Barking and Dagenham Council has been working hard to encourage other boroughs to cut the number of people placed here in temporary accommodation. As far as we can tell, this announcement can only make that situation worse, and undo a lot of the hard work already put in by this council."

A spokesman for Barking MP Margaret Hodge said: "This has been an issue in Barking and Dagenham for a number of years and is something which needs to be addressed.

"Although these tenants are not taking up council houses their presence is placing a strain on local services like health and education."

Westminster Council has warned that the subsidy will leave them £5.7million out of pocket and force them to increasingly look to cheaper parts of London.

Westminster's Cllr Angela Harvey said: "With around 3,000 people in temporary accommodation the council reluctantly has to house some outside the borough.

"Government cuts will put us under even more pressure to do this."

London Councils, which represents the interests of town halls in the capital, says that £60 million has been budgeted for preventing homelessness but only £22 million will be received in government grants.

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