Overall benefit cap 11 families evicted in Edinburgh

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cap rents not benefits

Eleven families, with 42 children between them, have been evicted from their privately-rented homes in north Edinburgh. They had built up rent arrears as a result of the recent reduction in the overall benefit cap from £26,000pa to £20,000. The families had applied to the city council for Discretionary Housing Payments to cover the rent shortfall, but their applications had either been turned down or were insufficient. Some of them have now been split up or sent to temporary hostels, while others have been moved to accommodation in Bathgate and Broxburn in West Lothian, causing additional stress due to the distance from the children’s schools.

Mothers from these families, along with local campaigners including RCG supporters, have held protests at the council’s housing office in West Pilton, and, on 18 May, at the council meeting in City Chambers. The Labour/SNP coalition council refused to receive a deputation from the women, who responded with a ferocious and brave denunciation. In an attempt to pacify the protesters, a councillor in the north Edinburgh area offered a suitable flat in Muirhouse for one of them. The situation for the other families remains uncertain – more action will be necessary.

The reduction in the benefit cap has cut housing benefit for nearly 300 families across Edinburgh, especially for single parents and those with three or more children. These families include more than 850 children; the average weekly deduction in their housing benefit is £60.56. One woman said she had to pay £372 out of £785 per month for her rent as a consequence of the cap; previously housing benefit had covered her rent in its entirety. Edinburgh’s skyrocketing rents mean that these evictions are just the beginning of a wider assault against working class renters in Edinburgh. Likewise, the resistance of the 11 families is just the beginning of a bigger fightback. The families will be demonstrating at Edinburgh City Chambers, High Street on 29 June, 9.30am. FRFI urges readers to support them.

No evictions! Smash the benefit cap!

Saoirse Nic an tSaoi 

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 258 June/July 2017