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Newham asks Stoke to house families on benefits

A council in London has been accused of ‘social cleansing’ by attempting to move tenants to a housing association in Stoke-on-Trent.

Newham council states that it can no longer afford to house tenants on its waiting list for private accommodation and has offered the Brighter Futures housing association the opportunity to lease homes for up to 500 families on housing benefit.

The council said that the gap between market rents and local housing allowance is too great, and is offering Brighter Futures 90% of local housing allowance and £60 per week to take on the families.

A spokesperson said: “Newham – along with other London councils – is under significant pressure. We are doing everything we can to ensure we have good quality, affordable housing which is fairly distributed.

“Alongside a number of otherLondoncouncils, we are also exploring the option of working with housing associations outside the borough to house people with an immediate need in the private sector, when there is no other alternative.”

The Brighter Futures chief executive officer, Gill Brown, told the BBC: “I think there is a real issue of social cleansing going on.”

Brown raised concerns about the relocation of families without adequate planning for their support and welfare, and said: “We have seen in the past relocation putting strain on other services because the medical, education and justice systems are unprepared for an influx of very needy people.

“The result was huge, unplanned pressure on local services, the collapse of already vulnerable neighbourhoods and the rise of divisive right-wing extremism.

“We believe that, if London boroughs are allowed to export their most vulnerable and challenging families to cities likeStoke-on-Trent, then exactly the same will happen again.”

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