A REPORT shows the scale of the housing crisis in Brent, but few solutions are offered by the council a campaign group has warned.
In two reports presented to the executive meeting on Monday, July 15, details showed that levels of homelessness in the borough are rising drastically and the universal benefits cap, set to come into effect in November, will only worsen the situation.
Since the first quarter of 2012/2013, the rates for the number of accepted homeless application due to the end of an assured short hold tenancy have rocketed in the borough. Brent accepted almost 100 in the last quarter and no other borough accepted more than 50.
The number of rough sleepers has risen 267 per cent, from 39 in 2010/2011 to 235 in 2012/13, compared with a national increase of 23 per cent.
Robin Sivapalan, chair of Brent Housing Action, said: “There is basically nothing positive going on in terms of what they are doing in Brent. This report doesn’t do anything to alleviate the crisis.
“I don’t know what will happen in the next year and I don’t think the council know either. I just really can’t see some people managing. The problem is there is no one-stop-shop which shows the whole picture, you have to piece it together.”
The report said the effect of the benefit changes on people in the private rented sector has been dramatic as private landlords are not renewing people’s leases.
The overall benefit cap will affect 2,267 households in Brent, of which 1,050 are in the private rented sector, which puts them at risk of needing alternative housing.
The report states: “A likely consequence of the welfare reforms is that households will choose to live in overcrowded and poor quality accommodation in the borough, rather than relocate to good quality accommodation in cheaper areas outside Brent.”
Jacky Peacock, executive director of Advice4Renters, formerly Brent Private Tenants Rights’ Group, said: “I think some people will eventually be forced in to destitution or into leaving the borough but the people we have spoken to will do everything they can to stay in the borough.
“The problem is that more families will be affected as they have larger homes. There has been in increase in unlawful evictions as landlords want to get people who are on benefits out. There are about three people a week who we see, who are being unlawfully evicted.”
She said there had been a case where the children had returned home from school and all their belongings were out in the garden and another where the family had returned from holiday to find a new family living in their home.
In response to the so-called ‘second bedroom tax’, the council is piloting a mutual exchange scheme where people with larger properties will be offered up to £1,000 to downsize. More and more families are also being moved out of the borough.
We contacted the council for a comment but received no response.