Probe into housing benefit ‘exodus from East End’ claim

Top university researchers are investigating whether housing benefit being capped at �20,000 a year will lead to an ‘exodus’ of families on social welfare from inner city areas like London’s East End.

A consortium has been appointed by the Government to carry out two-year monitoring of changes to the regulations in 19 case study areas, with a concentration on the key areas of London.

It follows allegations of families on welfare being put up in luxury accommodation at vast expense to taxpayers, including a family of 12 uncovered by the East London Advertiser last month receiving �1,462 a week housing benefit on top of other allowances.

Tower Hamlets councillors claimed the capping would result in welfare families being forced out of the East End altogether.

But the Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud, told Parliament last week that the Government expected “a very small proportion of low income families may have to move as a result of the reforms, with a minimal impact on geographic distribution.”

He confirmed that an independent consortium including the Oxford University’s Institute of Social Policy and Hallam University’s Centre for Regional Economic & Social Research is carrying out a two-year monitoring of Benefit changes.

Tower Hamlets spent �223 million Government funding on housing benefit in one year alone, according to latest figures, including �21m paid out to private landlords, �38m on council and housing association rents, �30m subsidising council tax and �34m on homeless allowances.