We need answers: Is Wales paying the price for London’s social cleansing?

 

Dafydd Thomas

The term ‘cleansing’ makes us think of a bloody process, a kind of genocide where people of the wrong religion or ethnicity are killed or driven from their homes.

But if the objective is to displace one population to make room for another then there are less brutal ways of doing it. As former residents of London and other parts of England can confirm.

Social cleansing is an ongoing process as the poor, sick and disabled are being moved out of the wealthiest English cities.

Leaked documents obtained by the Independent in 2015 showed that 50,000 families had been moved out of London alone in three years and that Wales was one of the primary destinations.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “It’s shocking to see…. the sheer volume of homeless families being uprooted and sent miles away from their local area.

“[They are] being forced to pack your bags and wave goodbye to… everyone you know – this is the reality for thousands”.

Wales’ politicians need to ascertain as a matter of urgency to what extent Wales is aiding in this inhuman practice by housing thousands deemed undesirable by England’s city councils.

It is very likely that we are, for simple economic reasons – it’s much cheaper to house them here than it would be in the many parts of England, where housing costs are much higher.

Unfortunately, we have no idea as to the scale of the problem because housing associations are one of the very few organisations exempt from Freedom of Information requests.

Why might this exodus be a problem?

  • Many of the people being moved are fragile and are being moved into a country where the health service is already burdened by a comparatively poorer, older and sicker population
  • Their economic prospects are unlikely to be improved by being moved into the poorest country in the UK
  • Rural areas are ill-suited to supply the kind of specialist care that people with some disabilities, health problems or drug issues need
  • Rural areas are also ill-suited to dealing with a rise in crime, as cuts in police budgets mean that forces are spread thinly
  • It can change the character of linguistic communities already under pressure from a large influx of retirees seeking cheaper homes

While we simply do not have any figures to confirm the scale of the movement of people into Wales, anecdotally people will tell you that some areas, such as Rhyl in Denbighshire, has seen a considerable influx for some time.

This town has the highest crime rate in Wales and is also one of the poorest, with an unemployment rate of 67%.

England’s cities aren’t moving those they consider their best – they’re getting rid of people they deem to be a problem that they don’t want to have to deal with.

Researchers have found that of the people accessing the housing service in London, 22% were disabled, and 48% had a health condition.

We also need to consider the mental health implications of this mass relocation – 89% had worsening mental health, 66% reported depression, and 9% suicidal thoughts.

As they noted: “Any move involves upheaval, but moving halfway across the country when you are already likely to be vulnerable causes huge emotional and health problems”.

Mistake

This is not a matter of not wanting people from England in Wales. It’s a question of:

  • Whether Wales should aid and abet an inhuman practice
  • Whether Wales can afford, financially and socially, the dislocation of thousands of families that England’s cities found to be undesirable.

Unfortunately, as we do not have any concrete figures as to the scale of the displacement it is impossible to know what the effect is on the Welsh Government’s annual budget. It is however, over time, likely to be very large.

This, in turn, means that there’s less to be invested on initiatives that might improve Wales’ economy, such as education.

Professors’ Gerry Holtham and Brian Morgan’s research shows that the most important contributing factor affecting economic outputs such as GVA, wages and levels of economic activity is expenditure levels on schools.

In discussing the report Prof. Holtham noted that: “The biggest single mistake in Welsh Government policy has been to bleed education spending [on schools] in favour…….of health, while it should have done the exact opposite”.

As a result of spending more on health, Wales already spend on average £604 less on education per head every year than England.

By allowing thousands of families that are more likely to have health issues to be forcibly moved to Wales, the Welsh Government is making its own problems much worse.

This is ultimately about moving people out of very rich cities that can afford to look after them into very poor areas that will struggle to do so.

Unfair

The problem of ‘social cleansing’ in England is only likely to worsen as a result of the Conservatives’ policies, such as the bedroom tax.

The sad truth is that the Conservatives’ policy is being facilitated by the Welsh Labour government by using funds from the Welsh budget to finance housing associations in Wales to fund this forced exodus.

The English Conservatives are offloading problem families, and the associated costs, on to the Welsh NHS, and thereby bleed spending on education.

They can then point to Wales’ deteriorating education and health services – the “line between life and death” as David Cameron liked to call it – as a further sign of the superiority of their own.

This is unfair to the people of Wales but also the thousands of vulnerable families that are being displaced. They need to be supported in the communities they call home.

Imagine growing up in London and, after a period of mental health problems and unemployment, being sent to a rural community in the south Ceredigion.

There is no hospital within twenty miles. The people around you are speaking a language you do not understand. It would be a completely alien landscape.

Wales’ Assembly Members are understandably reluctant to ask questions about this issue because it might be interpreted as callousness towards thousands of sick and vulnerable people.

But the truth is that they would be acting not just in Wales’ interests but in the interests of those being moved as well.


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Melindwr
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Melindwr

I haven’t read a piece more sinisterly subversive of the plight of those who may be “not our kind of people” since the weeks before the Brexit vote. I’m disappointed to be reading one here. Replace the word “poor” in this article with the word “migrant”; replace the word “Wales” with “UK”; replace the word “England” with, well, with the name of any country or continent where there are people being suppressed or wanting better. Re-read the modified article and note that bitter taste at the back of your throat.

sibrydionmawr
Guest

Suggest you read the whole piece once again, properly and slowly. There is nothing there in the least bit sinister there, unless you’re an anti-Welsh BritNat with an agenda. Of course, it’s a bit of a touchy subject that can’t be properly discussed, as it will inevitably upset the PC brigade, stifle badly needed debate and as such effectively aid and abet the Tories in their implementation of their social cleansing of London. Those people in London who are being cleansed out of the city need displays of solidarity, not the sanctimonious wringing of hands by the politically correct, but… Read more »

Jason Morgan
Guest
Jason Morgan

Pretty much spot on.

Dafis
Guest
Dafis

What took you so long to cotton on to this scandal. Visit Jacothenorth’s blog, wade through his archive and you will see evidence of misconduct and mismanagement by UK Government, English local authorities, Welsh local authorities and 3rd sector. No doubt there are other parties to these behaviors also but that will do for a start. They are not only clearing properties to “gentrify” suburbs in major conurbations, but shifting individuals and families, especially those deemed to be “problems”, completely out of their regions. One of the solutions is dropping them into Wales as if we haven’t got our own… Read more »

Enid Mair Davies
Guest
Enid Mair Davies

Not fair on the families. Unaffordable for Wales.

Trailorboy
Guest
Trailorboy

I remember seeing a documentary some time back on people trying to get help with rent in a London Borough (many were the working poor) and the council being unable to offer the money required, because of the bedroom tax and caps etc. There were some quite desparate people, who would move heaven and earth to stay in London, the place they want to be and many were shown being offered alternatives in Birmingham. There were some quite distressing stories (no doubt some were played up a bit for TV documentary value) and many were distraught about having to uproot… Read more »

sibrydionmawr
Guest

I don’t think the issue has been played up at all, it’s all too real, and a huge problem that just doesn’t reach the mainstream media. There are a few blogs highlighting this and related issues. Such as this one: http://www.katebelgrave.com Very few people actually want to move in this world, and if human migration was limited just to those who freely desired to move there would be no migration problem at all. Most people want to remain amongst their own, where they have community, family, language, culture, in short, where life makes sense. This is why what is happening… Read more »

sibrydionmawr
Guest

Very pertinent questions, but an issue that our own politicians are dodging, as it is contraversial to say the least. However, I agree with you wholeheartedly, as not only can Wales not afford the burden, which is really a secondary consideration, but it’s inhuman. What is happening in London is that many estates of social housing are being sold off for redevelopment, with only a fraction of the new housing being allocated as social housing. This has led to a dramatic reduction of social housing in the city. The recent disaster at Grenfell Tower was a direct result of the… Read more »

ptugwell
Guest

Article 9 No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile. Article 12 No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks. Article 13 1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. 2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. Article 15 1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.… Read more »

Dafydd Thomas
Guest
Dafydd Thomas

I don’t understand why Melindwr is defending the forced resettlement of people. With 89% of them suffering mental problems because of the move. Basically they are being moved to make room for healthier, wealthier people. Local authorities in England who are recipients of those forced out due to social cleansing procedures are complaining bitterly that it is bringing huge pressures on their health facilities etc. We need to complain as well, rather than assist in letting it continue. The Chief executive of shelter Campell Robb is speaking out against the sheer volume of those being forced to pack up their… Read more »

sibrydionmawr
Guest

But they aren’t being moved to make room for healthier and wealthier people, only so that the already obscenely wealthy can buy places where they specifically don’t live, because they’ve bought these properties as investments. The poor, the sick and the disabled are being denied homes because of greed. This is appalling. What makes these policies particularly sinister is that not only are places like London being socially cleansed, but, in our context, Wales is facing cultural genocide, thus the forces of neo-liberalism are getting a two for one deal, all apparently with the silent complicity of Welsh politicians.. These… Read more »

Communist & WelshNash
Guest
Communist & WelshNash

This was obviously written without considering Grenfell Tower. I’m sure that we would all agree that Wales would welcome with open arms all those people made homeless by such a disaster. Imagine if the Jackboot was on the other foot. Ruthless Councils in the Gower and the Vale of Glamorgan wanting people to move out of their areas because they are undesirables. Their mental health made poor by austerity. Would London welcome ‘our’ people? Yes I’m sure they would.

Capitalist and Welshnash
Guest
Capitalist and Welshnash

I would say this was obviously written without considering the Welsh Language. It did make a good point about the Welsh economy, that must be a primary concern when thinking about populations moving into (or out of as Ben Lake noted) Wales. The burdens Wales faces economically and socially are immense; and this article rightly points out this issue. We should also consider the cultural effect up on Wales in generations to come, as such movements in a country as small as ours may alter voting patterns, cultural identity (from Welsh to British, or even Welsh to English), and they… Read more »

Trailorboy
Guest
Trailorboy

Something that also comes to mind and links to this, is the way that we have also used the tactics that London boroughs are now using, to move people from our cities, further up the valleys. Something we were very good at doing in the 60s, 70s and ’80s, creating some of the most notorious ghettos of their time. The tale of Penrhys comes to mind – there is a cost in the end in trying to find ways to solve the problems that we create and having to do social engineering to undo the problems of earlier failed social… Read more »

Thomas Moseley
Guest

Dafydd Thomas describes a disgraceful state of affairs which should be of fundamental concern to our politicians in the Senate. Has it ever been raised by any of our AMs?

Martin
Guest
Martin

The article is spot on. I didn’t find it insensitive at all. I’m interested in this because these families popped up where I grew up. There were several of them and it wasn’t clear why they were here. They weren’t particularly unpleasant people but seemed to have been cast aside by well, it would have been an English local authority. This is the first article I’ve read which avoids attacking those people and points out that their welfare is not well served by being places in rural market towns. Unfortunately some articles and commentary about this issue have focussed on… Read more »

sibrydionmawr
Guest

People in London are doing something about their situation.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/08/15/towe-a15.html

Perhaps we could organise our own protests that not only show our solidarity with them, but stand up for our own particular cause too. We in Wales have are also facing a social housing crisis, somewhat different, but ultimately with the same causation.

Melindwr
Guest
Melindwr

No, Melindwr is not defending the enforced relocation of anyone, but he is concernrd about the tone of the piece because of its association of the displaced people, as an entity, entirely with added strains on public services in Wales, increased crime in settlement areas and change in the linguistic features of receiving communities. Hefyd, nid “anti-Welsh BritNat” dw i, ond Cymro pwy sy’n gobeithio fod Cymru’n gallu hedfan uwch golygfa gorgynildeb. The actions of the councils who are responsible for the displacement of these people are indefensible, and this article does well to call them to account. The future… Read more »

sibrydionmawr
Guest

Hardly a separate issue at all. Depositing people in areas that are already severely stretched is not a recipe for social harmony. You also seem to have ignored, whilst accepting the injustice, that those displaced people have a fundamental right to be in the areas they are being shifted from. If you knew anything about UK government immigration policies you’d know that traditionally they don’t have one, and have a long track record of expecting immigrants to try and make a go of it finding houses, healthcare and jobs in areas that where these things are already overstretched. Of course,… Read more »

Jonesy
Guest
Jonesy

Can I draw your attention to a few interesting facts. 12 years ago I was working in mental health in west Wales minding my own business until I began to sort out the filing . What did I find , 70-80% of the units’ clients were non-Welsh, or not those who had been raised and settled in the area for the majority of their lives. That is a startling fact and what does it tell you? Secondly according to a report by the Bevan Foundation published a few years ago, only about 25% of the population of Ceredigion are paying… Read more »

Royston Jones
Guest

Bit it’s perfectly legitimate to consider “added strains on public services in Wales, increased crime in settlement areas and change in the linguistic features of receiving communities” because these are inevitable consequences of this population movement.

Your final sentence suggests dealing with the effects without considering the cause. Which in this case will encourage those responsible to continue social cleansing and view Wales as a willing recipient.

trepenpol
Guest
trepenpol

Well if you want to know how London treats the people of the UK, you only have to look at how Westminster treats the people of Cornwall. If Westminster gets its way on carries on the way it treats the Cornish, how do you think it cares about Wales? The only thing protecting the Welsh is its politicians, although the ignorance of Westminster towards law is widely known in Cornwall. Better hope you have good politicians

Dafydd ap Gwilym
Guest

Migration is as old as the hills. It comes about through travel, adventure, trade, work, marriage, war and as we see in England state persecution of its own. Yet again the weakest being targeted. I was pleased to read someone mention Grenfill Tower. A blatant example of forced relocation at its worse and most deadliest level. If it was just an ‘accident’ (which I do not believe for a moment it is) then there would be a coroners inquest, but it isn’t because it is murder. Cymru has always welcomed migratants, but not on the scale as we are seeing,… Read more »

Tame Frontiersman
Guest
Tame Frontiersman

The consequences of Ian Duncan Smith’s welfare policies were foreseen and felt early on in the Westminster Conservative –Liberal Democrat Coalition Government (2010-2015) Here’s a link to a Wales on Line article dated 6.11.12 entitled “Plan to move London’s homeless to South Wales is criticised” which contains statements by Huw Lewis the WG Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage (2011-2013) and Dr Victoria Winckler, Director of the Bevan Foundation. http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/plan-move-londons-homeless-south-2016177 I make the observation, that while the dislocation of people, the break-up of families and communities and the trampling of culture is universally condemned when this is the result of… Read more »

sibrydionmawr
Guest

So basically we should just roll over and die? What is being opposed here is a fundamental breach of people’s rights by those with the power to coerce. You also reduce it to a mere financial problem, which is pretty insulting to all concerned. People, culture and language are precious things, and are priceless, as are the rights of people to live in communities where life makes sense, whether that be in Wales, in London, or wherever else on the planet. There is no way that Wales should be aiding and abetting London authorities in the implementation of policies that… Read more »

Anja Thies
Guest
Anja Thies

I don’t fully understand why statistics are not available. When people move they leave a massive trail, they not only require housing they also need to register with a doctor, enrol their children with the local school, register to vote as well as getting any kind of benefits. Surely the local councils must be able to measure those increases. There will also often be a previous address and doctor. I don’t see this as a sinister article as Wales clearly needs to have an understanding and a say in what is going on. I believe this article is aiming to… Read more »

Robert Williams
Guest
Robert Williams

I’ve just heard this article discussed – or touched on – in Radio Cymru’s Sunday morning programme, and again described as ‘dadleuol’ (controversial). Frankly, I can’t understand all the pussyfooting: while it would be good to have exact facts and figures, there can be little or no doubt that this kind of population movement is occurring, and little or no doubt either that it has seriously adverse consequences, both for the often vulnerable people who are transplanted and for the receiving communities. There is nothing particularly ‘nationalist’, and certainly nothing racist in enunciating this plain truth. This is no trivial… Read more »

Wrexhamian
Guest
Wrexhamian

The cost of living (including housing) in London is now so expensive that a large number of people cannot afford to live there, and these are without exception the ones being farmed out to the English provinces. It will only increase as London becomes ever more unaffordable except for those who profit by its economy. The problem for Wales in respect of this is very different to that of the English provinces. This is colonialism pure and simple. Its potential impact on Wales reminds me of the impact on the Aborigines of transportation to Australia, but on a smaller scale.… Read more »

Southerner
Guest
Southerner

I can relate to what the author is saying ,these are facts. It has been happening in Southend-on-Sea in Essex. The landlords have received money from the council to house people from boroughs such as Hackney. The rents are now akin to London prices. My town used to be nice but now feels like you are living in London (along with gang land problems). Add the to the mix the rich people from London have bought houses here putting up house prices. It’s difficult to get Dr’s appointment, school places etc. If you work and rent here with no benefits… Read more »

Mike Flynn
Guest
Mike Flynn

It is not just Wales that has seen a move by London councils to move their homeless elsewhere. Many old seaside towns such as Gt Yarmouth and Margate are now being used by cash strapped local authorities.

This article in the Guardian makes interesting reading. https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/sep/04/seaside-towns-among-most-deprived-communities-in-uk

Great Yarmouth and Castle Point were the two local authorities in England and Wales with the smallest proportion of over-16-year-olds who had level four and above qualifications, such as higher apprenticeships and degrees.

Wrexhamian
Guest
Wrexhamian

Great Yarmouth and Castle Point are in England; there’s no such country as England and Wales.
The impact of compulsory people-movement into Wales has an added negative dimension for reasons which have been discussed many times on this site and which you are doubtless familiar with. Great Yarmouth and Castle Point are not directly our problem.
I know Ruabon, incidentally. Nice little place. I used to live at Maes Llan Farm when you was a kid.