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Newham Council tries to re-house tenants outside of London

Housing Minister Grant Shapps has criticised the London Borough of Newham for attempting to re-house 500 of its social housing tenants outside of the London Olympic borough.24 Apr 2012

The Council has written to 1,179 housing organisations asking them if they want to "expand their current business" by helping to house up to 500 tenants from Newham where the housing is "beginning to dry up".

Newham Council is beginning to witness an "overheating" of the private rented sector, due to the onset of the Olympic Games and the "buoyant" young professionals market, Newham Council said in its letter to the housing associations, as published in the Guardian. 

However, Shapps claimed that the Council's letters were nothing more than political games ahead of the elections. "Not only do I think it’s unfair and wrong I’ve also made legislation and guidance that says they’re not to do this," said Shapps in an interview this morning. 

Shapps argued that there was no need for residents to be moved. He said that despite the recent Welfare Reform Act, a family can still receive up to £21,000 in housing benefit a year.

"A third of homes in the local area are within the cap. Within a five mile radius of Newham there are nearly 1000 homes available," said Shapps. "I think you have to factor in that there is an election on and that this is a Labour borough. I think that Newham is playing politics by writing these letters when we’re in election season."

The Act introduces an annual cap on benefits and overhauls many payments within the welfare system.

In its letter to the housing associations, Newham claimed that it had "embarked upon Resilience agenda" across all of its services, which is a departure from traditional services for providing temporary accommodation.

"The effect of this is that the supply of accommodation to the Council's Private Sector Access Scheme is beginning to dry up, forcing the council to look for an alternative supply," the Council said in its letter.