Three children and their mother have been told to move to Stoke or be made homeless as Harrow Council begins to roll out its new housing policy which she feels is “inhumane”.

Cecilia Bruce-Annan, of Kenmore Gardens, Edgware, was informed by her housing association earlier this month that she must leave her home of three years by September 4 after falling into rent arrears of more than £2,000.

'We're full': Harrow Council to start housing tenants elsewhere as homes crisis deepens  

After seeking assistance from a housing officer at Harrow Council, she was told that her only option is to be placed in private accommodation in Stoke on Trent, 150 miles away from friends and family, as the council admits it no longer has enough homes to cater for the needs of its residents.

“I don’t even know where Stoke on Trent is,” she told getwestlondon .

"They cannot provide me with affordable housing where I live, where my children study for their GCSEs, where my child goes to nursery.

"It is inhumane. I do not know anyone who lives even near there.”

Those on waiting lists for council houses in Harrow have been told their only chances of getting a home means moving away from London, with Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland even a possibility.

Miss Bruce-Annan was one of those hit by the benefit cap – introduced in April last year – which limited the amount of welfare payments she could receive, leaving her to fall behind on rent payments.

The 42-year-old said: “I have a one-year-old baby and two other daughters which I need to support, and because of the benefit cap and being unable to work because I have a baby to look after, I have fallen into this debt.

"First they want to make me homeless, then they want me to move to Stoke on Trent.

New housing policy means 'the poor who call Harrow home are no longer welcome' - former Labour councillor  

“I am being treated viciously and have just been left angry and desperate. This is enough to give a mother a breakdown. It just is not right.”

Her two options compared...

  • Harrow
Our beautiful Bentley Priory in The Common, Stanmore

Average house price... £355,716

Average annual wage... £25,000

Famous for... educating some of the finest minds and most celebrated people in Britain including Winston Churchill alongside boasting expansive and beautiful green open spaces while also having one of the most diverse populations, making the borough a proud example of modern Britain.

Things to do and see... the stunning view of London in all its finery from the peak of Harrow on the Hill as the sun sets.

Surrounding area? Well you either have the wonderful countryside or the hustle and bustle of the capital city in either direction. What more could you want?

  • Stoke on Trent
Stoke City's Brittania Stadium
 

Average house price... The Sentinel newspaper reported back in 2011 that the average house price in Stoke-on-Trent was the lowest in the country at £73,733. Now the figure is closer to £99,000.

Average annual wage... £17,000

Famous for... pottery.

Things to do and see... it’s a 28 minutes drive to the Alton Towers theme park.

Surrounding area? Mainly just the Alton Towers theme park.

The council are obliged to house Miss Bruce-Annan and her three children should she be evicted, most likely into temporary accommodation such as a bed and breakfast if she declines the option to move to the Midlands.

Gail Bradford, housing solicitor at Harrow Law Centre, who have been supporting Cecilia, said: “Sadly this is not an isolated case.

“We regularly see families whose lives are turned upside down, children forced to repeatedly move school and women forced to return to violent partners."

David Perry, Labour's leader of Harrow Council, said: "At Harrow Council, we do everything we can to support our tenants, using all the means at our disposal. That includes working in partnership with housing associations and allocating funds to help with tenants’ rent.

"We would much rather keep all our tenants here in Harrow than be forced to find them new homes in more affordable parts of the country. Relocation is a last resort. However, government welfare reforms and years of inadequate housing policy leave us no option.

"We are determined to tackle these problems, faced by thousands of our residents – and have already announced plans to build 500 affordable homes in the borough. This is just the start of our manifesto commitment. However, houses cannot be built overnight and that means, for now, we are not yet able to protect every resident from London’s housing crisis."

What do you think? Is it right to move people away from their homes? Tell reporter John Shammas what you think on john.shammas@trinitymirror.com, or comment below.