The result of his rent hikes – in the case mentioned by Aditya Chakrabortty back in 2014 – was that an NHS care co-ordinator was likely to be forcibly moved away from her job, causing harm to many people.
That was likely to happen in July 2016 – last month.
Lyndsey Garratt had never heard of Richard Benyon – until he wound up buying her home and those of her 92 neighbours. Now that the millionaire Tory MP and his business partners threaten to make them all homeless, the 35-year-old mother can’t stop talking about him.
Garratt lives on the fringes of the City of London, on the New Era estate. Built by a charitable trust in the mid-1930s, the redbrick square has provided homes to local working people at affordable rents. There was a time when the term “affordable housing” was not a sick joke, when inner London did house people on moderate incomes. But now the capital has become a global hotspot for property speculators; Hoxton is overrun with overpriced burger joints and media start-up companies, and New Era is one of the last estates to provide working-class Londoners with a home.
At least it was until Benyon’s family firm recently moved in as part of a property consortium and snapped up the lot. The investors have made no bones about jacking up rents to match the rest of the market. Garratt was previously paying about £640 a month for the two-bed she shares with her daughter; when her contract expires in July 2016 residents expect they will be charged around £2,400 a month. For Garratt, a care co-ordinator at the local NHS trust, that is way more than her entire take-home pay.
Council officers have already told her what that means. As a single mother, she and eight-year-old Daisy will be moved into a homeless shelter, for anything up to four years; then it’s temporary accommodation, which could be in Manchester or Birmingham.
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