Benefit Claimant? You’re Too Poor To Live In Brighton
RESIDENTS claiming benefits should be advised by council staff to consider leaving Brighton and Hove and moving somewhere more affordable, according to a new council report.
Council staff should have “honest and open conversations” with families reliant on benefits, warning them that they might not be able to afford big enough homes in the city and to consider moving to more affordable areas of the country.
Green councillors said the advice amounted to “social cleansing” of low-income families out of a city they had called home for generations at a council meeting last night.
Council officers have warned that ongoing welfare reform could price low-paid workers out of commuting distance from the city and harm the local economy.
Ongoing welfare changes also lead to families falling behind with rent and becoming at risk of homelessness, harming council finances in reduced rent collection and homeless costs.
On average benefit claiming families are £44 a week worse off since the 2010 reforms launched by the then coalition government with the hardest hit being the disabled, large families and residents aged under 35.
Brighton and Hove is said to be one of the most places most strongly affected by ongoing welfare reform because of high concentrations of disadvantaged communities and a housing market with high prices, high private sector rents and “very strong demand” for limited council housing.
The situation is predicted to worsen as the impact of George Osborne’s welfare cuts in this summer’s budget take hold – Brighton and Hove is set to be one of the most heavily impacted by the reduction of the benefit cap from £26,000 to £20,000.
Additionally the controversial Universal Credit scheme will begin in Brighton and Hove in December with an initial rollout of between 500 and 1,000 claimants up to March next year but eventually expanded to at least 20,000 households.
Green councillor Leo Littman said: “Taking £60 million a year from the 25,000 poorest households in the city is evil and woe betide if you have the misfortune to be disabled.
“Fundamentally the report endorses officers of Brighton and Hove City Council being asked to talk to residents of Brighton and Hove city, many of whom have lived in the city for generations, and say ‘I’m sorry you are now too poor to live in Brighton and Hove’.
“I find that desperately upsetting.”
Conservative councillor Nick Taylor said the reforms should not be seen as “all doom and gloom” as it had encouraged thousands of households across the country back into work.
He said the council should look to encourage more residents out of the private rented sector and into home ownership through the Government’s expanded Right-To Buy scheme.
He added: “The next phase of welfare reform is going to be broadly positively for the country and for the city.”