Waltham Forest Council Halts Long Distance Rehousing Plans

Waltham Forest Council has been forced to suspend plans to rehouse tenants outside of London, in areas as far away as the West Midlands.

The council owns 27 properties in Walsall, and has offered them to their current tenants.  The uptake has been poor, with just 6 tenants accepting the relocation.

The long-distance re-housing plan includes properties in Luton, Bedfordshire and Margate, Kent.

The council are amongst a number of others who are citing the lack of affordable homes in London as the reason why they are being forced to ask tenants to consider moving long distances.

Marie Pye, cabinet member for housing in Waltham Forest said ‘It is important to recognise that looking to house people outside of London is a genuine attempt by the council to overcome a serious problem with suitable available accommodation in the capital,’ she said. ‘The issues still remain a challenge to the council and the problem is continuing to grow ever more serious.’

As part of its welfare reforms, the government introduced weekly caps on housing benefit.

Local Housing Allowance, which is used to determine housing benefit payments, has also been changed so it is being calculated on the basis of cheaper rents, rather than on the mid-point of rents achievable in an area.

Waltham Forest is one of the first councils to suspend the procurement of more property outside London for the time being, and will now more rigorously consider work, school and family ties.  It was also be looking to join a consortium of other London councils aimed at reassigning tenants back to their respective boroughs.

Last month Housing Minister Grant Shapps said long-distance relocation was unnecessary and illegal if used as a blanket policy with councils not taking into account peoples links to an area.

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