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Fellow council condemns Havering’s lack of empathy after moving vulnerable homeless people to empty flats in Clacton

PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 August 2018

Cllr Damian White, leader of Havering Council, and Cllr Paul Honeywood, cabinet member for housing at Tendring Districit Council. Photos: Ken Mears & TDC

Cllr Damian White, leader of Havering Council, and Cllr Paul Honeywood, cabinet member for housing at Tendring Districit Council. Photos: Ken Mears & TDC

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Havering Council has been urged to treat its homeless with more respect after a number of the borough’s vulnerable people were moved to Clacton without the council there being informed.

Tendring District Council (TDC) has this week spoken out after a number of people, all from Havering, approached its social services having been moved to the same apartment building.

The group of vulnerable residents were moved in February to a number of flats – most of which had no furniture at all, including not having a bed, meaning families with children were forced to sleep on the floor – and some had been given one housing offer and 24 hours to ‘take it or leave it’.

TDC leader Cllr Neil Stock OBE wrote to then Havering Council leader Cllr Roger Ramsey, three separate times highlighting concerns around the long-term future of the people, and demanding Havering take full responsibility for its actions.

TDC claims Havering admitted making mistakes, but so far the residents have not been re-housed closer to London.

Councillor Paul Honeywood, cabinet member for housing at TDC, said: “We understand that London boroughs are facing severe housing pressures but they are not alone, and simply moving the problem elsewhere does nothing to tackle it.

“But at the heart of every homeless application is a person, and that person should come first in whatever a local authority does.

“Homelessness is not just about a roof over your head, but access to support to get yourself back on your own two feet.”

Cllr Honeywood also claimed Havering’s current plan was not sustainable for the people invovled, or the two local authorities.

He added: “Some of the people from Havering who have turned up at Clacton Town Hall asking for help have been moved more than an hour away from all of their support networks – friends, family, childcare and education, and even work.

“How can that be helping these people in the long-term?

“There is also concern about the long-term future for these people. Havering has paid the top-up rent for them to stay in Clacton for two years, but what happens if their benefit entitlement changes, or at the end of those two years?”

But Councillor Damian White, Leader of Havering Council, said the borough was just performing its duty to look after those who qualify for help.

He added: “We always try to provide accommodation to people in the borough or close by, but because of increasing rents and rapidly reduced government funding, this isn’t always possible.

“We are not alone in facing this issue, London as a whole, the south east of England and many cities throughout the UK are in exactly the same situation.

“At the moment the council has a stock of more than 9,400 affordable homes, and over the next 10 years we will double our affordable housing offer on 12 of our estates with one of the most ambitious council home building programmes in London.

“But this will take time to deliver and in the meantime our obligation to provide a roof over people’s heads must remain our number one priority.”

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