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London council tries to pay tenants to move to Birmingham

A London council has sent a letter to its housing tenants offering them cash incentives to move to Birmingham.

The letter, from Wandsworth Council, states that the authority has “a number of private sector properties within the areas either directly within or near the surrounding areas of Birmingham”.

It adds that the council will pay the tenant up to £5,000 to give up their London home, depending on the number of bedrooms it has, and move to a similar one in Birmingham.

The authority is also offering financial help with the rent deposit and moving costs of up to £2,000.

The letter was revealed by Labour parliamentary candidate for Battersea Will Martindale, who branded it “outrageous” in a tweet.

“A woman knocked on my door last night after getting this letter. She told me it made her feel ‘not wanted’ in Battersea,” Martindale said.

“It’s just wrong to pressure local families to leave Battersea and move to Birmingham. The real answer is to build more homes that local people can afford to rent and buy.

“This Tory council is out of control. First, they moved local homeless families to Leicester and Portsmouth. Now they offer some of our most vulnerable residents cash to move 100 miles away from their jobs, friends and schools.”

According to a report from the council’s own Housing and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Wandsworth is targeting 600 “under occupier” moves in the next three years.

The report says this is “more than triple the number of moves when compared to the previous three years’ performance”.

The council’s housing service is going to employ more staff, referred to as “dedicated decant officers”, to encourage people to move.

A spokesman for Wandsworth Council said: "This is a scheme that has been in place in Wandsworth for many years. Every other London borough has a similar policy.

"What it does is provide choices and incentives for tenants in larger properties to hand them back so that they can be used to provide new social rented homes for families on waiting lists who may be living in overcrowded conditions and need a bigger property."

"Offering a financial incentive is one of the ways in which tenants who don’t need such big homes can be encouraged to give them up.

"As the letter makes crystal clear, it is not compulsory and no-one is forced to leave, but some residents are quite happy to move out of London because they may have family connections in other parts of the country or are looking to make a fresh start outside the capital."

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