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[Mr James Gray in the Chair] — Housing Benefit

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 13th October 2010.

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Photo of Margaret Hodge Margaret Hodge Chair, Public Accounts Committee 9:30 am, 13th October 2010

I bow to the huge experience and knowledge of my right hon. Friend and I agree entirely with his analysis of the likely impact of the changes that the Government are proposing to make.

In my constituency, all 3,810 households that currently receive local housing allowance will already lose out because of the housing benefit cuts that will come into effect next year, so they will experience additional hardship as a result of those cuts. Because rents in Barking and Dagenham are currently lower than in the inner-London boroughs, private tenants in the borough will not be hit as badly as those in central London, where rents are the highest in London. but as inner-London private tenants are forced to find a home in outer London, rents will inevitably be driven up in the outer-London boroughs. More demand on limited supply will be a double whammy for the people of Barking and Dagenham. Has the Minister commissioned any research to understand better the potential impact of his proposals on rents in outer-London areas such as Barking and Dagenham? If so, will he place that research in the Library?

We know from anonymous quotes in the press that civil servants are telling Ministers that the proposals, as my hon. Friend Mr Slaughter said, will lead to the biggest population movements experienced since the industrial revolution. Even at her worst, Shirley Porter deported only 1,000 people out of Westminster, yet this Liberal Democrat Minister is deliberately forcing tens of thousands of families out of inner London, in a shameful act of social engineering and political gerrymandering that will damage our communities irreparably.