Barking and Dagenham Council has hit out at Westminster City Council’s ‘social cleansing’ policy of housing homeless people outside its own borough in east London.
Reports that Westminster City Council spent £6 million purchasing 34 properties across four north east London boroughs have brought a strong reaction from the Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council.
Barking and Dagenham Council points to increasing demand for school places, delays getting GP appointments and an overspend on children social work budgets as some of the issues blamed on Westminster City Council’s skewed ‘social cleansing’ policy.
With news of another £9 million earmarked to expand this portfolio, Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council said: “This is completely unacceptable. I am outraged that our borough has been asking for a fairer funding formula without success, and now we are being treated in such a manner by a wealthier borough.
“I am in total agreement with colleagues in Westminster. Rather than use their financial muscle to buy homes in our borough, which reduces the housing stock available for our hard working residents trying to buy, it also brings other problems for this council.
“Here in Barking and Dagenham we already face unprecedented demand for school places, suffer anti social behaviour related to buy to let properties; problems getting appointments at GP surgeries and unsustainable pressures on our children services budget.”
Barking and Dagenham has seen enormous growth in its population over the past 10 years, and with the reductions in grant despite this growth, the council is struggling with funding for school places, housing, places in GP surgeries and transport infrastructure.
Cllr Rodwell added: “Historically, we have been underfunded by up to £8 million a year. This coupled with an ever increasing population notably a 50 per cent increase in 0 – 4 year olds, and new legislation like the Care Act is putting enormous strain on the Council’s already stretched resources.
“We are proud of our achievements so far – we have built 805 new houses over the last two years with another 830 to be completed by April 2016. In addition, we are investing £30 million a year for the next four years to bring all our homes to a decent standard.
“We cannot continue to build homes for our residents and tighten our belts in hard times only to be treated as a convenience.
“We will be writing to the Government about our concerns. In the interim we will continue to fight for the funding the people of Barking and Dagenham need. That is why we are asking for a fairer funding deal to meet these challenges.”