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Campaigners force Stratford NatWest to close during protest against bank's 'no housing benefit' policy

PUBLISHED: 15:35 26 November 2018

Protesters closed a branch of the NatWest in Stratford on Saturday after demonstrating against the bank's 'No DSS' policy. Picture: NEIL HARVEY

Protesters closed a branch of the NatWest in Stratford on Saturday after demonstrating against the bank's 'No DSS' policy. Picture: NEIL HARVEY

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Housing campaigners forced a bank to close in a national protest against unfairness towards renters on benefits.

Protests were staged at Natwest branches in cities including Brighton, Bristol, Glasgow, London, Newcastle, Manchester and Sheffield. They were organised by renter action groups ACORN, Living Rent and London Renters Union. Picture: NEIL HARVEYProtests were staged at Natwest branches in cities including Brighton, Bristol, Glasgow, London, Newcastle, Manchester and Sheffield. They were organised by renter action groups ACORN, Living Rent and London Renters Union. Picture: NEIL HARVEY

Protesters stormed the NatWest branch in The Broadway, Stratford, on Saturday waving placards and shouting ‘Yes, DSS’ as part of a national campaign targeting the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) owned bank.

Action groups Living Rent, London Renters Union and ACORN object to a clause in NatWest’s buy-to-let mortgage terms ruling out renting to housing benefits tenants.

A campaign spokeswoman said: “NatWest’s blatant discrimination against housing benefit claimants is another reminder that our rigged housing system prioritises profits for landlords, investors and banks over everyone’s need for a decent home. It should be brought to an end immediately.

“We plan to keep the pressure on NatWest until it drops its ‘No DSS’ clause. The housing crisis is bad enough already for people on low incomes without the added pressure of benefit discrimination.”

A clause in Natwest bank's buy-to-let mortgage terms rules out renting to �DSS� tenants. Picture: NEIL HARVEYA clause in Natwest bank's buy-to-let mortgage terms rules out renting to �DSS� tenants. Picture: NEIL HARVEY

The groups say renters claiming housing benefits face huge difficulties finding homes because landlords and agents won’t rent to them.

A NatWest spokeswoman said in response: “We are currently in the process of conducting a review of our policies in this area.”

The lender has two approaches when it comes to buy-to-let mortgages.

For commercial landlords with more than ten properties there are no benfits restrictions on tenants, but there are for private customers with fewer than 10.

This 'eviction notice' was served on NatWest as part of the campaigners' protest on Saturday. Picture: NEIL HARVEYThis 'eviction notice' was served on NatWest as part of the campaigners' protest on Saturday. Picture: NEIL HARVEY

There are 4.2 million people in receipt of housing benefit in the UK. Research by the Residential Landlords Association found that 66 per cent of lenders, covering 90pc of the buy-to-let market, apply the ban.

MPs led by Frank Field have also raised concerns about the issue given affordable housing shortages and the numbers of claimants dependant on the private rented sector.

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