Boris Johnson and 12 Tory MPs for London are pressing for exemptions to housing benefit caps. In the wake of news that up to 82,000 households could lose their homes in the capital, the Mayor and parliamentarians have been trying to persuade the government to remove the cap for Londoners, or cut costs by paying the money direct to landlords. Johnson is also pushing hard for tenants who care for a relative locally or have children in special schools to be allowed to stay in their homes.
Despite the government insisting there will be no U-turns on housing benefit proposals, £70m has been diverted into a hardship fund for tenants facing eviction. Johnson is lobbying for 90% of that to be earmarked for London.
London Councils have revealed that boroughs are already making worst case scenario preparations by talking to landlords in areas like Reading, Hastings and Watford in an attempt to temporarily rehouse people, which will obviously take them away from jobs, schools, extended families and familiar social services. It's been suggested that tenants 'just move', but it's not that simple: estate agent KFH confirmed to us that private landlords do not want to let to people on housing benefit and, even assuming tenants can find new housing, the impact of up to 250,000 arriving in the outer boroughs will put tremendous pressure on council services at a time when they are already facing severe cuts.