We recently acquired a copy of a letter from the Housing and Homelessness Assessment Team at RBKC which we have reproduced in full below. We understand that versions of this letter are being routinely sent to some of the most vulnerable people in temporary accomodation on the Council waiting list. This letter signals a change from what used to be a voluntary programme, the Private Rented Access Scheme, to a mandatory policy targetting those who qualified for the housing waiting list after 8th November 2012.
As far as we have been able to determine the Private Rented Access Scheme (PRAS) has been piloted in RBKC on a voluntary basis since November 2012, but the power to enforce it as a mandatory policy has also existed since the Localism Act came into force at that time. It seems that the Council has now decided to end the voluntary scheme for all those who qualified since the Localism Act came into force and to fully implement the powers granted under the Act to force those assessed since 2012 into private accommodation.
Under the voluntary PRAS programme those who have qualified for social housing and are living in temporary accommodation receive a £3,000 bribe/incentive if they opt to move into private rented accommodation which they must find for themselves. Given the grossly inflated rent levels in London this will most likely be outside of London, with no realistic prospect of ever returning. However, under the pernicious new mandatory policy those found to be in priority need since November 2012 will instead be made a single offer of accommodation in the private rented sector. This can be anywhere in the UK. Those targetted will have no say about where they will be sent, and once the offer has been made the Council will be considered to have fully discharged its duty and will have no further responsibility to house them, regardless of whether the offer is accepted or rejected.
In this ruthless policy change RBKC has resorted to the most base of tactics and the cruelest of legislation in order to socially cleanse our once tolerant and diverse borough of some of its most vulnerable residents, and there is no guarantee that the mandatory policy will not be extended, at some future time, to include all on the housing waiting list. Indeed, in a policy statement from 2014 (Discharge of duty into the private rented sector) the Council states that it intends to fully discharge its duty to house the vulnerable by way of ‘Private Rented Sector Offers’ (PRSO) and anticipates that eventually the majority of qualifying households will have their entitlement ended by a PRSO.
The voluntary PRAS programme;
Given the powers granted under the Localism Act, soon to be followed by the Housing and Planning Act which will decimate the social housing stock that has, over many years, been massively depleted by the Right-to-Buy programme, one can only conclude that the neo-cons at Westminster and in Hornton Street have no qualms about completely destroying working class communities, and implementing an evil policy of social cleansing that includes forcing the most vulnerable families, many of whom may have lived locally for generations, into permanent exile far from London.
We in the Grenfell Action Group are disgusted, but not surprised, that those who have power, both at Westminster and in RBKC, choose to act in such a cruel and ruthless manner, seeking to socially cleanse many of our most vulnerable residents who are unfortunate enough to be stuck on social housing waiting lists. In times such as these we believe our readers would do well to remember the immortal words of the dissident Pastor Martin Niemöller, who lived in Hitler’s Germany during the Nazi era;
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me… and there was no one left to speak for me.