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‘Rich’ boroughs buy up cheap homes

PUBLISHED: 17:21 18 February 2015 | UPDATED: 17:21 18 February 2015

Labour leader Cllr Jas Athwal at the Town Hall.

Labour leader Cllr Jas Athwal at the Town Hall.

Archant

The leader of Redbridge has accused inner London councils of “dumping” their poorest residents in the borough after it emerged Westminster City Council was buying properties here to house its homeless.

Cllr Jas Athwal, leader of the Labour-run Redbridge Council, said his cash-strapped borough would be forced to pick up the tab for schools and other services for families from other boroughs who were being put up in Westminster-owned homes.

He said: “People have been effectively dumped in our borough by much richer boroughs because they can afford to do so. This is an easy option for them.”

The borough’s housing chief, Cllr Muhammed Javed, warned it could make it “extremely difficult” for residents to get on the housing ladder.

Westminster City revealed it had bought 10 properties in Redbridge over the past 18 months to use as temporary accommodation, each costing an average of £183,000.

Last month the Recorder reported some of the 8,000 families on Redbridge’s housing waiting list were being housed as far away as Birmingham and Slough due to shortages.

Cllr Athwal claimed Redbridge would not be forced to send its own housing applicants to other boroughs if neighbouring councils did not buy properties here. “Westminster see east London as a cheap option because you can buy a house for £200,000,” he said. “That same house could be £2million there. Most of the boroughs are doing it, because the system is so fragmented and so broken.”

Cllr Athwal said councils needed to come to an agreement not to buy properties in other boroughs.

Although Redbridge bought nine properties in the past year, the council leader said its funding was “miniscule compared to what Westminster gets”.

Cllr Daniel Astaire, Westminster Council’s housing boss, said: “Housing is a London-wide issue that will not be solved by sticking rigidly to borough boundaries, and officers across London will continue to work together to help households in difficult circumstances find housing in places that they can afford to live.”


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