Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales on the reality of the borough’s housing crisis
09:46 15 October 2014
Next week we will begin moving families who need them into temporary homes on the Carpenters Estate. We would like to have moved many more into other properties last year, including the three high rise blocks, had we not been legally blocked from doing so. Since the council regained possession of the illegally occupied block, officers have been carrying out repairs to make the homes safe and suitable for families to move in as soon as possible.
I remain fully committed to the long-term redevelopment of the whole Carpenters Estate as this will provide much needed mixture of housing and tenancies as well as jobs and community space which will benefit all Newham residents including those currently living on the estate.
The recent national spotlight on the Carpenters Estate in Stratford must be turned into a floodlight on London’s housing crisis. The lack of housing supply, the Conservative government’s barbaric benefit bashing and the private rented sector’s spiralling rents and declining standards are a triple whammy negatively impacting on our homeless residents.
Newham Council is facing the brunt of this impact due to the unfair swingeing cuts to our government grant. Additionally wealthy Westminster Council receives around £8m a year in homelessness prevention grant, while Newham, which has been dealt the biggest cuts in the country, gets just £700,000. They can therefore continually afford to outbid our housing team and have placed thousands of their homeless families in Newham and elsewhere. In turn, a growing number of London councils are forced to house their homeless people further afield. The impact of moving families away from schools, family networks and their communities is obviously devastating.
I am doing all I can to mitigate the devastating effects of this Government’s decisions. I want Newham to be a place where families can put down roots and I will help where I can – whether this is through getting a job through Workplace, our successful jobs brokerage service, access to truly affordable quality private rented homes or help to get on the housing ladder. It’s clear the Tory government doesn’t care and we need a Labour government with innovative and courageous solutions to London’s housing crisis. More from Sir Robin Wales