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London homeless 'forced' to settle in Essex, it is claimed

PUBLISHED: 17:29 18 December 2018 | UPDATED: 17:29 18 December 2018

Tendring District Council leader Neil Stock (right) Picture: ARCHANT

Tendring District Council leader Neil Stock (right) Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Fears have been raised that homeless families in London are being "forced" to settle in Essex as a way of "removing a problem" for the capital.

Leader of Essex County Council David Finch Picture: PAUL STARRLeader of Essex County Council David Finch Picture: PAUL STARR

A letter signed by every council chief in Essex raises key issues highlighted by housing officers across the county – including claims that Essex taxpayers are picking up the bill for homeless families who are reportedly encouraged to move across the border.

Issues raised in the leaders’ letter, sent to the mayor of London and leaders of borough councils, include a lack of communication from London to Essex councils informing them of people being moved into the area, families being placed in inadequate housing, and the impact on local services.

It also warns of cases where families have been moved far away from support networks such as friends, family and jobs, meaning their situation can actually worsen.

Neil Stock, leader of Tendring District Council, said concerns raised by local councils had so far “largely been ignored” by London politicians.

Mark Cory, leader of Colchester Borough Council Picture: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCILMark Cory, leader of Colchester Borough Council Picture: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCIL

He added that, while he did not wish to discourage people from moving to Essex, nobody should not be “forced” or “financially encouraged” to settle there.

“We now hope that those in power in London sit up and take notice, and work constructively with us to resolve these issues,” he added.

Mr Stock’s concerns were echoed by the leader of Colchester Borough Council, Mark Cory, who said the issue “urgently needs addressing”.

“Local people are already finding it increasingly difficult to find homes at a price they can afford without additional competition from people from the capital,” he said.

“We acknowledge the pressures London boroughs face but the solution to the issue is not to move people miles away from their family, friends, schools and support networks.”

David Finch, leader of Essex County Council, added: “The current situation of vulnerable families being moved to Essex is untenable.

“We of course recognise the difficulties all local authorities are facing in such a constrained financial environment, but we must work together more effectively to ensure everyone in Essex is given the opportunity to succeed and thrive with the appropriate support networks, schooling and accommodation.”

The London mayor’s office has been contacted for comment.

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