Welfare Reform (Supplementary) [2]

Session date: 
March 20, 2013
Question By: 
Roger Evans
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Roger Evans (AM): I think there have been some reasonable concerns raised this morning, but we do need a reality check on some of the things that have been said. In my own borough of Havering we have quite a lot of social rented property and some of it belongs to the London Borough of Newham who built it there many years ago because it was a cheaper and more pleasant option for housing their tenants than doing it in Newham. Waltham Forest Council, 20 years ago, was housing some of its tenants in properties in Essex. These are Labour councils that very wisely decided to make the best use of their money by doing that. Do you not agree that to describe the situation as a crisis suddenly is somewhat alarmist and disregards

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for Welfare Reform (Supplementary) [2]

Answer for Welfare Reform (Supplementary) [2]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Well that was my word.

Roger Evans (AM): Well it was not, it was Tom Copley's word, and it is alarmist and it disregards what has happened in history.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): You are totally right, Roger, and there are lots of ways of looking at this, and I think Tom is very concerned about a deal between Westminster and Peterborough and talks about social cleansing. Actually, you look at the history of London over the last 100 years; there have been repeated waves of emigration by Londoners to other areas, to form the garden cities, to Essex and so on and so forth. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with people finding the accommodation they need elsewhere.

Where I think I would agree with Tom and with others is if there is an element of compulsion, if people were simply told, 'Like it or lump it, we are kicking you out to some far-flung place', I think that is not what we want to see. Again, I must repeat what I have said to Fiona [Twycross AM] and to others this morning, we must be realistic about this. Any proposal of a kind that the Labour Party supported in 2010 to reform Housing Benefit in the way that it must be reformed would lead to some families inevitably having to make choices about where they live that affect all working families. Everybody has to try to decide where to live; that is just a fact of life. What we are trying to do is to mitigate the impacts for some of the harder cases and that is why I referred to the funds and so on.