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Cramped & Overcrowed
This photo was recently sent to us by a young West Londoner. They are paying an extortionate £380 per month for this single box room on the outskirts of North-West London.
Low Paid & Worse Off
I’m 24 years old and have been working for seven years – and I’m being forced out. Mostly my employment has been in minimum wage jobs with poor conditions. When I was 17 I would sometimes have to skip meals at the end of the month – I thought those days were behind me!
Anonymous South Londoner
I’m 25 and have recently moved out of my parent’s house. I wanted to stay in the borough I have grown up in and built a relationship with, but the rents there are extortionate and rising fast. Instead I have had to move to a cheaper outer London borough. Moving is a stressful enough experience and that’s without having to deal with council services that have been cut to the bone and dodgy landlords looking to bleed you dry.
Firstly I had to lie to the estate agent as most landlords won’t take on Housing Benefit claimants. This is just through sheer snobbery; these people seriously believe the myths about benefits claimants as being unemployed and workshy people who won’t pay the rent. If you don’t want benefit claimants then don’t charge rents of well over £1000 per household! To make matters worse this unseen and unheard landlord, that I pay money to every month, hasn’t signed my tenancy agreement so I’ve had to make up a signature in order to provide proof to the council that I do in fact live in the house.
Then you actually have to get the Housing Benefit. It took the council a month to get back to me a month after I made my claim. Then I had to repeatedly wait on the phone for 15 minutes a time in order to talk to advisors. There have been huge job cuts directly to the service that deals with benefits claims in the last month which means there are less staff to deal with my claim, and presumably thousands of others. Having given them all the evidence and jumped through all the hoops three months on I am still waiting for my first payment. As a result I have wracked up debts of £1,200 in loans I have had to take out to pay the rent. I have a never been in debt before and it’s very distressing for a low paid worker like myself.
All in all moving has made me poorer as a result of the Housing Benefit cap for under-35s, greedy landlords and cuts to local services. On top of that my expensive ‘new home’ is filthy, rat infested and disgusting. If I had known all this before I had moved I would have stayed at my parent’s place. But can I, like thousands of others, be forced to live in my parent’s small home until I’m 35 or am able to get a higher paying job whilst unemployment is so high?
Moving shouldn’t be like this. We need a cap on rents not benefits. We need to stop landlords of profiteering at our expense. We also need a programme of affordable council house building; this would provide home and jobs and keep rents low. That why I am fighting back, that why I’m joining Young Londoners – Forced Out.
Anonymous, angry young Londoner
No choice but poverty or homelessness
I’m 25. I have been forced to move from the inner London borough that I grew up in and have lived in since birth, to an outer-London borough away from friends, family and the community I have invested 25 years in. I’m not alone. I’m a low paid part-time worker with a decent degree and the soaring inner London house prices have meant I, alongside presumably hundreds of other working class young people, have been forced out to make way for a growing gentrification of the capital.
I am paid just over £320 per month – minimum wage for approx. 12 hours per week. My rent for a room in a shared two-bedroom flat is £470 per month. This is £200-300 less than what I would pay for a similar room in the area I grew up. As you can see, the maths just doesn’t add up.
The government say they want to help low paid workers. That low paid workers shouldn’t suffer whilst the unemployment get ‘rewarded’ with benefits.
So what’s there to help young people faced with situations like mine? Housing Benefit used to be there to help plug the shortfall in my rent but the age at which you can claim full housing benefit has gone up from 25 to 35. If you are under 35, like me, you can now only claim SAR (Single Accomodation Rate), for a single room in a shared house and there is a limit to how much you can claim. The SAR I do get doesn’t go to help me, it goes into my account and then straight to my unknowing greedy landlord who has multiple properties in the area.
As a result I’m left with £145 per month to live on. This is impossible. What option do I have? Move back in with my parents who have had to take on a lodger to help get by? Move out of London and lose my part-time job whilst unemployment is rocketing? There is no option. Poverty and/or homelessness is the only thing faced by myself and other young people thanks to this government of the rich and for the rich.
What’s more, I miss my community and the borough I know more than ever.
Down and Out in London