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Protesters lobby Tower Hamlets council to stop any ‘Benefits’ evictions

07:00 26 June 2013

Campaigners march down Roman Road in Bethnal Green earlier this month

Campaigners march down Roman Road in Bethnal Green earlier this month

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Campaigners are planning a Town Hall picket tonight to demand that no family will be evicted if they go into rent arrears through benefit cuts.

Opposition to government cuts which campaigners fear could lead to families being turfed onto the streets is growing with the Mayor of Tower Hamlets now condemning changes he said would hit the East End’s most vulnerable.

The campaigners argue that the authority and other social landlords should resist evictions if tenants can’t pay.

But the mood on the local authority is already hostile to benefit changes, both among the Labour majority opposition and independent Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s administration.

The Mayor said: “It’s outrageous that the government still can’t be clearer about when these changes will go live.

“The measures will have a significant impact on people in the East End and affect the most vulnerable.”

The Tower Hamlets Benefits Justice campaign held a protest march at Bethnal Green and a series of public meetings in the East End earlier this month, leading to the petition being handed in to tonight’s council meeting.

Campaign coordinator Eileen Short said: “We calculate 10,000 households will be hit when further cuts come in next month. Benefits are high in the East End because of the high rents in this expensive part of London.

“Some families have already been warned about going into arrears, which are veiled threats about being evicted.”

One-in-five Disability claimants in Tower Hamlets alone may lose their entitlements, it is estimated, which Town Hall figures put at 1,300 people.

Those losing their entitlement also lose their safeguard from the Benefit capping which would limit allowances to £350 a week for a single person, £500 for families.

Disability Living Allowance is being replaced by the new Personal Independence Payment up to 64 years of age. Youngsters under 16 continue being eligible — for now — for Disability Allowance, the government says.

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