Greens have expressed outrage at devastating welfare reforms introduced by national government, as the Council announces plans to ask its poorest residents to move out of Brighton & Hove or face homelessness.
In a report to the Neighbourhoods, Communities and Equality Committee on Monday , which looks at the likely impact of planned welfare reforms, council officers have revealed that for people in low paid employment or surviving on benefits, living in the city in the long term “will not be a financially viable option”, and that “difficult conversations” will be needed with customers “around choice of where to live and how to sustain employment”.
Also being presented to the committee is a Food Poverty Action Plan, which identifies that the number of clients supported by food banks have increased by 53% since 2012-13, and reports that one in four households (23%) recently surveyed disagreed that they ‘will have enough money in the next year to cover basic living costs’.
In response to the report, Greens say “more must be done” by the Labour council administration to help the poorest households. As such, they have asked the committee to deplore the Labour Council’s proposals on the council tax reduction scheme, which will see council tax bills for the poorest households increasing dramatically.
Councillor Leo Littman, spokesperson for Neighbourhoods, Communities and Equality, said:
“This report shows just how vicious and destructive the Tory austerity agenda is. this is social cleansing on a massive scale. Squeezed by welfare reforms, services cuts, and rising living costs, our poorest residents are being told they must leave the city they call home.
“We are supposed to be a City of Sanctuary and yet people are being forced out of the city; or if they refuse to go, onto our streets. When did we decide it was ok to say: ‘You’re too poor to live here anymore?’
“The Council has a duty to protect the city’s vulnerable families, and that means we absolutely cannot cut vital support like the council tax reduction scheme.”
Councillor David Gibson, who also sits on the neighbourhoods, communities and equality committee, said:
“This situation has been caused by the ideological pursuit of austerity by the national Conservative government, it is heartless and entirely unnecessary. Instead of making banks pay for their reckless behaviour, banks have been bailed out and the cost is being passed onto the poorest under so called “welfare reform”. With soaring housing costs, this will be the “perfect storm” which solidifies poverty in the city.
“The welfare reforms planned over the next few years will ravage families on low incomes. We are not talking about people “playing the system” here – these are school-leavers, parents working multiple jobs, sick and disabled people. In 5 years, we can expect to see some of the poorest forced out of the city, and dire poverty and homelessness for others who stay.
“There is something we can do as a council to soften the impact on the poorest so
we are calling on this committee to unite with us around the principle of fairness, and do what we can to mitigate impacts by stopping the cuts to council tax reduction for the 15,000 poorest people in our city”