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Council leader pledges ‘no evictions’ policy over Universal Credit fallout

More than 5,000 people in Camden believed to be at risk of being worse when new system kicks in

18 October, 2018 — By Richard Osley

Camden Council leader Georgia Gould

LABOUR council chiefs will order a “no evictions” policy towards people who fall into financial trouble under a major shake-up of benefits.

Party members are understood to have quiz­zed council leader Georgia Gould on her stance on the introduction of universal credit at a private meeting in Kilburn last night (Wednesday). The government has been warned in recent days that it could face a poll-tax style rebellion as the roll-out of the new system continues.

It has been estimated that 5,000 low-income families could be worse off when six existing benefits are switched to one single lump sum paid to claimants. Camden has been disaster planning for weeks after benefit claimants in areas where the system has already been introduced fell into calamitous debt and were left teetering on the brink of eviction.

Food banks have predicted they will be busier than ever in the first weeks universal credit begins to kick in here, just before Christmas.

At last night’s meeting of Hampstead and Kilburn Constituency Labour Party, members called on Cllr Gould and her colleagues to “extend immediate financial help” to claimants with private landlords or those living in housing associations. The leader was also asked what plans were in place to help families over December and those faced with higher fuel bills in colder months.

Cllr Gould said nobody would be evicted from a council house or flat over arrears caused by the changes. “As a council we have deep concerns about how the roll-out of universal credit could impact our residents,” she said “We know that payment delays in other places have left people without any in­come to pay for basic necessities such as food and rent.  This is completely unacceptable to us and we won’t stand by and let it happen in Camden – the government should be getting this right.”

Cllr Gould added: “We will actively support our residents and we won’t evict anyone simply because they are affected by the transition to universal credit and fall into arrears because of government delays.”

This is a similar stance to the policy adopted by Camden of not evicting households who fell into debt as a result of the bedroom tax.

The warnings were heard on a national scale on Friday when former prime minister Sir John Major warned his own party that they could regret the switch, as some estimates suggested more than three million people could be worse off by more than £2,000 a year.

“I am saying that if you have people who have that degree of loss, that is not something that the majority of the British population would think of as fair,” said Sir John, a former parliamentary candidate in Holborn. “And if people think you have to remove yourself from fairness, then you are in deep political trouble.”

Work and pensions secretary Esther McVey, who was a guest of Hampstead and Kilburn Conservative Party for a fundraiser last week, said that “tough” decisions had to be taken, “Some people could be worse off on this benefit,” she told the BBC. “But 1,000 people every day since 2010 have moved into work. If those people can work, what they will be losing is benefits, but what they have got now is work. Work will be paying. Their wage will be increasing.”


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