Fresh 'social cleansing' claim
The row over social housing has intensified after it emerged a Tory-run council is looking at moving housing benefit claimants to Derby and Nottingham.
In a proposal to Westminster Council, Smart Housing Group offered to rehouse "150 people within the next 12 months...with an option to increase this number to perhaps closer to 500 properties".
The revelation about Tory-run Westminster follows controversy over Labour-run Newham, which has asked a housing association to look into moving tenants from east London to Stoke.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps described it as "outrageous" that Newham was considering moving tenants.
But Labour's leader on Westminister Council, Paul Dimoldenberg, hit back, saying:
“Will Grant Shapps now condemn Westminster Council for investigating ways of moving Housing Benefit claimants to Derby and Nottingham? Or does his fake outrage only stretch to Labour councils which are affected by the Government’s damaging housing benefit caps?”
Mr Shapps told the Today programme he had been clear about what councils could and could not do with respect to social tenants, saying:
"I’ve just changed the rules to allow local authorities to discharge their homelessness duty using the private rented sector, but I’ve been absolutely clear in those rules to local authorities that they must take into account the welfare of the tenants in doing so, which includes, for example, not packing them up and sending them off to Stoke."
The leader of Newham council, Sir Robin Wales, told the same programme that Communities Secretary Eric Pickles had been warned that the new housing benefit cap would force families out of London.