Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has 16 children “stuck” in had temporary accommodation in his constituency – 483 fewer than the London borough of Newham.
That difference, the Commons heard, was where ‘levelling up’ fell down.
Jenrick was not at the Dispatch Box for a debate on local government funding when the comparison was drawn by Labour’s Lyn Brown – who has part of Newham in her West Ham constituency.
Brown asked Jenrick – in absentia – how it was fair to prioritise places such as Newark over places such as Newham.
“Newham and Newark are not the same—none of our places are the same—and different places do not have the same level of need.
“They do not have the same deprivation or the same projected population growth for the very near future as we have, they do not have the same living costs for council staff, the same numbers of old people or the same numbers of children needing care – those latter two (being) the most expensive services of all,” said Brown.
“Different places cannot raise an equal amount of revenue, in Newark, a 4% rise in council tax raises £14m; in Newham, it gets us just £3m.
“If the proposed funding settlement is approved, Newham’s grant will go from £244m in 2013 to £148m in the coming year,” she said.
And where Newham’s population has grown by 15%, the cut is almost 50% per person over seven years, the House heard.
Referencing 27,000 families on the borough’s homelessness waiting list, Brown took temporary accommodation to illustrate her argument, telling the House of 7,725 children in temporary accommodation paid for by the Borough– which covers 36 sq km.
“We have more children living with that form of hidden homelessness—poverty, and poverty of opportunity —than entire regions of England.
“That means Yorkshire and the Humber, north-east England, south-west England and the east midlands combined.
“Greater need, and greater costs for the council, are located in 36 sq km than in 63,000 sq km,” she said.
Brown acknowledged “deprivation and unfairness” in Jenrick’s local authority – Newark and Sherwood District Council.
“But overall the number of children stuck in temporary accommodation in Newark is 16, 483 times lower than the figure in Newham,” she said.
Responding for MHCLG, Minister for Local Growth Jake Berry said he had met with Mayor of Newham to discuss funding.
“I would be very happy to visit Newham with (Brown) and the Mayor to look at this issue and talk about it in greater depth,” he said.
This week it was revealed that councils in England alone spent almost £1.1bn on temporary accommodation last year – with 86% of the sum going private landlords, letting agents or companies.