- Created on 19 February 2016
For two years running, Southwark has been evicting more council tenants than any other London borough.
A year or so ago, we looked at the Ministry of Justice data on eviction proceedings and evictions, which spanned from 2003 to 2014.
During the 11 years, the number of evictions from council and/or housing association homes in Southwark remained high.
|Social landlord evictions|
|Camden||City of London||Greenwich||Hackney||Hammersmith||Islington||Kensington & Chelsea||Lambeth||Lewisham||Southwark||Tower Hamlets||Wandsworth||Westminster|
Most recently, Department for Communities and Local Government published the housing data for 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. And Southwark again has the largest number of evictions, for two years running.
|Evictions from social housing 2013 to 2014|
|Barking and Dagenham||93|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||26|
|Kensington and Chelsea||16|
|City of London||10|
|Kingston upon Thames||4|
|Richmond upon Thames||0|
|Evictions from social housing 2014 to 2015|
|Barking and Dagenham||73|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||37|
|Kensington and Chelsea||27|
|City of London||7|
|Kingston upon Thames||1|
|Richmond upon Thames||0|
The 'Labour' administration started charging council tax to people who were previously exempt (disabled people, people in receipt of other benefits), in spite of a huge number of voluntary sector bodies warning them not to. In 2013, thousands of residents were in arrears and were promptly summonsed to Camberwell Magistrates Court to be pushed deeper into debt (because this was 'fairer for all'). Cllr Richard Livingstone came along to the protest, to blame everyone but themselves.
One resident recently shared their struggles to 'downsize' - they had, voluntarily, told the council they wanted to downsize and were still waiting as one bedroom homes are like golddust. In the meantime, the resident is being forced to pay the bedroom tax in spite of council's claims about support they were providing to residents etc. Once the council tax, bedroom tax and energy bills are deducted from their benefits, they're left with around £1 a day for food/toiletries.
A little while back, court ruling found the council to be gatekeeping, and Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth have been keeping a fully detailed record of experiences of people trying to access services at the council's housing offices on Bournemouth Road.
Just over a week ago, a Camberwell resident stumbled upon something happening at the Elmington and took these disturbing photos:
We suspected this was the final part of Aminata and her family's story, and were right. An eyewitness writes: "In the early hours of 11th February, some 50 bailiffs and police broke into Amanata home on Benhill Road, and forcibly removed her and her family. The eviction was organised by Southwark Council. The bailiffs refused to give her any time to pack her belongings and also refused to allow her to dress properly. They pushed her young children who were also at home at the time and physically dragged her from her first floor flat. She was badly bruised and then arrested by police. Southwark Council officers were present. Her elder daughter arrived at the home and took responsibility for the other three children and was given an hour to gather the family’s possessions. Amanata was brutally treated whilst in police custody and fainted. She was taken to Lewisham hospital to be treated. Finally released from hospital she remained under arrest and was charged at Lewisham police station with ‘attacking a police officer’, which she completely denies. Southwark Council Housing Department, whose manager is Anthony Jones, has not offered any temporary accommodation for the family nor for the other families evicted from the block. There were two other families who had their homes broken into, all their possessions removed and one family who returned in the afternoon were arrested for ‘trespass’. These families lived in very run down conditions owned by Southwark Council who did not make arrangements for alternative accommodation. The block is now cleared ready for a private contractor to destroy the building and build private development apartments in the Camberwell area."
And then there is the Savills' report which condemns most of us (still) living in Southwark's dwindling council stock.
And then there's the scandalous amount of council homes not 'lost' but deliberately destroyed and not replaced through 'regenerations'.
All of the above has absolutely nothing to do with any of Southwark councillors or council officers but instead everyone else everywhere else.
They are building 11,000 new council homes and oppose the Housing Bill, so there.
Evictions and resistance: on the front lines of London's housing crisis
Updated 25th February 2016:
Southwark News report on the second Elmington Estate eviction which also took place on 11th February.