Housing Benefit North-South divide


Large swaths of southern England will become off limits to housing benefit recipients in a little more than a decade because of the government’s proposed plans to cut welfare bills – triggering a huge migration of the poor to the north – according to a study by housing experts.
The work, by the Chartered Institute of Housing, shows that before 2025 rents on most two-bedroom properties in the south will become unaffordable to those claiming local housing allowance. Within 15 years, much of London’s commuter belt will become too expensive for the state to pay for the poor to live in. Towns such as Chelmsford, Newbury, Bath and Maidstone would be no-go areas for those on benefits and all of Hertfordshire would be out of bounds. The capital would be unaffordable within a decade.
The findings reinforce concerns expressed today by Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury. Williams attacked the government’s welfare plans, saying he was particularly concerned about the cuts in housing benefit – “My worry there is that people’s housing is part of their sense of stability, part of their sense of having a secure future, and I’m also a bit worried about the way in which this could lead to a kind of social zoning, where middle-class areas get more solidly middle class and other people are pushed out to the edge,” he said in an interview with the BBC.


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