Benefit cap takes its toll on Enfield families

As the benefit cap forces Enfield families out of the borough, the council predicts more people will be faced with eviction and homelessness.

Figures obtained using Freedom of Information requests show families with children have been relocated using discretionary housing payments.

In the first two months after the benefit cap was introduced in Enfield, 15 families with 46 children were moved out of London.

Darren Johnson, London Assembly Green Party Member, said: “The Mayor of London has clearly failed to ensure families in Enfield don’t have to uproot their children because of the benefit cap.

“Rents are so high across London that it is becoming impossible for people on low incomes, working part-time or temporarily unemployed, to stay put and make ends meet.”

While Enfield Council says it is doing all it can to protect vulnerable families, Councillor Ahmet Oykener claims more trouble is afoot.

The cabinet member for housing said: "Although we do not know the long-term effect of the government's welfare benefit reforms on rent or migration to Enfield, we do know that rents are currently rising in the private sector as demand grows from those in and out of work, including benefits claimants being placed in Enfield by other boroughs.

“Enfield’s population has already increased by more than 36,000 since the 2001 census resulting in significantly increased demands for council services at a time of unprecedented spending cuts.

“Enfield Council anticipates a growing number of evictions and homeless applications as local people feel the effects of the government’s welfare benefit reforms, putting extra pressure on our already hard pressed services.”

The total loss of housing benefit in Enfield is more than £10million a year.

The authority says approximately 2,700 of Enfield families including an estimated 4,000 children are currently financially worse off as a result of government changes to housing benefit.

Cllr Oykener added: "Enfield Council is offering support to local people affected by the Government's welfare benefit reforms, helping them in whatever choices they make.

“The council has set up a joint taskforce with Job Centre Plus and the Citizen's Advice Bureau which is working with families affected by the benefit cap to explain what options are available to them and help them cope with the drop in benefit.

“The council does not have a programme of forced moves out of London for families affected by the total benefit cap, however where a family asks us to help them find more affordable accommodation, we will provide assistance.”

A spokeswoman for the Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "While reform of the welfare system is long overdue the Mayor has worked hard to secure transitional arrangements, such as additional funding for councils, incentives for landlords to reduce rents and more time for existing claimants.

"He is also on track to deliver a record number of affordable homes, with 100,000 to be built over two terms and around £3billion invested to improve London’s housing. This, he believes, is the most positive way to influence the market, rather than measures such as controlled rents, which he has no power to introduce and are likely to deter investment in building new homes.”

Have you been affected by the benefit cap? Contact reporter Natalie O'Neill on 07795 497 327 or email noneill@london.newsquest.co.uk

Comments (6)

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12:24pm Wed 17 Jul 13

Enfieldian14 says...

The problem is that the Labour Government were throwing money at benefit claimants hand over fist. To think that the benefit cap is still a staggering £500 per WEEK (£26,000) per year demonstrates how stupidly high benefit payments were. Long gone are the days when claiming benefits was merely to prevent homelessness and starvation - it has become a lifestyle choice.

A cap is long overdue - yes, claimants will be worse off but where is the fairness in a family raking in £26,000 a year for doing absolutely nothing? People need to understand that they need to pay for the lifestyle choices - the children they breed and the homes they live in...not the taxpayer.

When you consider that the benefits bill is a staggering £208 BILLION for 2012/2013 and that House of Commons research also showed that just 43 per cent of welfare payments are now contributory – made to those who have paid National Insurance – compared to about 70 per cent of benefits paid in the 1960s and 1970s surely everyone can see that cuts have to be made.
The problem is that the Labour Government were throwing money at benefit claimants hand over fist. To think that the benefit cap is still a staggering £500 per WEEK (£26,000) per year demonstrates how stupidly high benefit payments were. Long gone are the days when claiming benefits was merely to prevent homelessness and starvation - it has become a lifestyle choice. A cap is long overdue - yes, claimants will be worse off but where is the fairness in a family raking in £26,000 a year for doing absolutely nothing? People need to understand that they need to pay for the lifestyle choices - the children they breed and the homes they live in...not the taxpayer. When you consider that the benefits bill is a staggering £208 BILLION for 2012/2013 and that House of Commons research also showed that just 43 per cent of welfare payments are now contributory – made to those who have paid National Insurance – compared to about 70 per cent of benefits paid in the 1960s and 1970s surely everyone can see that cuts have to be made. Enfieldian14

4:32pm Wed 17 Jul 13

Enfield123 says...

Enfieldian14 - Beating a 'claimants are scroungers' drum is narrow minded and ultimately pointless. You need to ask the right questions. One of the main problems here is the lack of affordable housing which in turn means people live in private rented housing, which have ridiculously high rents, double even triple compared to some areas of the country. The money from housing benefit goes to landlords, so funding the LANDLORD'S lifestyle. Also, why is there no real programme to tackle long term unemployment and benefit fraud, rather than blanket decisons that affect the most vulnerable in society. It's dismaying that our present government are hell bent on turning everyone against each other while giving tax cuts to the richest. Literally taking from the poor and giving to the rich.
Enfieldian14 - Beating a 'claimants are scroungers' drum is narrow minded and ultimately pointless. You need to ask the right questions. One of the main problems here is the lack of affordable housing which in turn means people live in private rented housing, which have ridiculously high rents, double even triple compared to some areas of the country. The money from housing benefit goes to landlords, so funding the LANDLORD'S lifestyle. Also, why is there no real programme to tackle long term unemployment and benefit fraud, rather than blanket decisons that affect the most vulnerable in society. It's dismaying that our present government are hell bent on turning everyone against each other while giving tax cuts to the richest. Literally taking from the poor and giving to the rich. Enfield123

6:54am Thu 18 Jul 13

Enfieldian14 says...

Enfield123 wrote:
Enfieldian14 - Beating a 'claimants are scroungers' drum is narrow minded and ultimately pointless. You need to ask the right questions. One of the main problems here is the lack of affordable housing which in turn means people live in private rented housing, which have ridiculously high rents, double even triple compared to some areas of the country. The money from housing benefit goes to landlords, so funding the LANDLORD'S lifestyle. Also, why is there no real programme to tackle long term unemployment and benefit fraud, rather than blanket decisons that affect the most vulnerable in society. It's dismaying that our present government are hell bent on turning everyone against each other while giving tax cuts to the richest. Literally taking from the poor and giving to the rich.
At no point have I 'banged the all claimants are scroungers' drum'. Far from it. A decent welfare system sets us apart from other countries and is a basic pre-requisite. However, benefits are supposed to be a safety net and unfortunately this is no longer the case. Our benefits bill is way too high, the country as a whole is struggling and cut backs have to be made - by everyone.

Your argument regarding high rents is a fair one. However, we cannot expect landlords to be so altruistic that they are renting their properties out for less than they could realistically achieve. Why should they shoulder the burden of a chronic shortage of properties?

The problem is actually two fold. Benefits are too high and there is a chronic lack of affordable housing due, in the main, to the Right to Buy system. Council housing stock is being sold off at an alarming rate - and with discounts of up to £100k per home, this trend is only going to continue. There are few, if any, affordable homes being built in Enfield. Of the many flats in 'Enfield Central' how many of those will be affordable?

That said, people also have to make difficult decisions and if they cannot afford to live in Enfield due to rising rents then families will have to move to areas in which they can afford to live. Yes, this may mean uprooting families and that is unfortunate - but what we cannot do is continue to pay people such huge sums of money out of the tax payers purse. After all, there are plenty of places I cannot afford to live - Kensington or Westminster, for example.

Between 2007 and 2009, Enfield has had one of the biggest increases in the proprtion of adults receiving out of work benefits, and now has the 9th highest rate in London. The level of benefits being given is simply unsustainable.
[quote][p][bold]Enfield123[/bold] wrote: Enfieldian14 - Beating a 'claimants are scroungers' drum is narrow minded and ultimately pointless. You need to ask the right questions. One of the main problems here is the lack of affordable housing which in turn means people live in private rented housing, which have ridiculously high rents, double even triple compared to some areas of the country. The money from housing benefit goes to landlords, so funding the LANDLORD'S lifestyle. Also, why is there no real programme to tackle long term unemployment and benefit fraud, rather than blanket decisons that affect the most vulnerable in society. It's dismaying that our present government are hell bent on turning everyone against each other while giving tax cuts to the richest. Literally taking from the poor and giving to the rich.[/p][/quote]At no point have I 'banged the all claimants are scroungers' drum'. Far from it. A decent welfare system sets us apart from other countries and is a basic pre-requisite. However, benefits are supposed to be a safety net and unfortunately this is no longer the case. Our benefits bill is way too high, the country as a whole is struggling and cut backs have to be made - by everyone. Your argument regarding high rents is a fair one. However, we cannot expect landlords to be so altruistic that they are renting their properties out for less than they could realistically achieve. Why should they shoulder the burden of a chronic shortage of properties? The problem is actually two fold. Benefits are too high and there is a chronic lack of affordable housing due, in the main, to the Right to Buy system. Council housing stock is being sold off at an alarming rate - and with discounts of up to £100k per home, this trend is only going to continue. There are few, if any, affordable homes being built in Enfield. Of the many flats in 'Enfield Central' how many of those will be affordable? That said, people also have to make difficult decisions and if they cannot afford to live in Enfield due to rising rents then families will have to move to areas in which they can afford to live. Yes, this may mean uprooting families and that is unfortunate - but what we cannot do is continue to pay people such huge sums of money out of the tax payers purse. After all, there are plenty of places I cannot afford to live - Kensington or Westminster, for example. Between 2007 and 2009, Enfield has had one of the biggest increases in the proprtion of adults receiving out of work benefits, and now has the 9th highest rate in London. The level of benefits being given is simply unsustainable. Enfieldian14

8:55am Thu 18 Jul 13

ponderman says...

Sod the lot of them.
Sod the lot of them. ponderman

8:59am Sun 21 Jul 13

sks101 says...

Over 42% of Enfield housing benefit claimants are recent immigrants.
you get what you vote for.
I dont want to pay higher taxes
to support the over population of enfield.
The labour party has transformed this borough just for the votes.
Over 42% of Enfield housing benefit claimants are recent immigrants. you get what you vote for. I dont want to pay higher taxes to support the over population of enfield. The labour party has transformed this borough just for the votes. sks101

10:32am Sun 21 Jul 13

robbybox says...

Fair enough - if someone cannot get a job give them benefits for a certain time - They should not get benefits indefinitely. Their children will see benefits as a right to lie in their beds and get paid for doing nothing. I have to work 56 hours a week and get paid £28,000 - tax and NI off this and I end up with about £21,000 - just over £400 per week and my wife and 5 year old have to survive on this. We cannot get benefits and cannot afford the huge deposits for a mortgage - so we have to rent privately paying +£700 monthly for a 1 bed flat but cannot afford +£900 for a 2 bed flat. How am I supposed to feel sorry for benefit claimants????
Fair enough - if someone cannot get a job give them benefits for a certain time - They should not get benefits indefinitely. Their children will see benefits as a right to lie in their beds and get paid for doing nothing. I have to work 56 hours a week and get paid £28,000 - tax and NI off this and I end up with about £21,000 - just over £400 per week and my wife and 5 year old have to survive on this. We cannot get benefits and cannot afford the huge deposits for a mortgage - so we have to rent privately paying +£700 monthly for a 1 bed flat but cannot afford +£900 for a 2 bed flat. How am I supposed to feel sorry for benefit claimants???? robbybox

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