‘Vast social cleansing’ pushes tens of thousands of families out of London

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Data shows that the numbers claiming free school meals has dropped by almost a third in some boroughs, suggesting areas are becoming preserves of the rich

Tens of thousands of poor families have left inner London in the past five years, creating “social cleansing on a vast scale” and leaving large parts of the capital as the preserve of the rich, figures suggest.

The extent of the problem is revealed in data that shows the number of children entitled to free school meals, a widely used indicator of deprivation, has dropped by almost a third in some London boroughs since 2010.

The figures portray a mass shift of poorer families from inner London just when the government has introduced a raft of changes to the welfare system.

Although there is no definite link between welfare reforms and the reduction in free school meal claimants, Sadiq Khan, the prospective London mayoral candidate who obtained the figures, said government policies were creating an increasingly segregated city.

“This data shows that the government’s policies on welfare and housing have caused social cleansing in London on a vast scale,” said Khan. “Families have been driven out of large parts of the city … this is not the kind of London I grew up in or want my daughters to live in.”

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