BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron has backed a call to withdraw welfare benefits from rioters as a London council became the first to begin evicting a tenant whose son faces unrest charges.
Mr Cameron said overnight people who “loot and pillage their own community” should no longer be allowed to live in social housing, reflecting the tough line he has taken over four nights of violence in London, Manchester and Birmingham.
“Obviously, that will mean they’ve got to be housed somewhere else – they’ll have to find housing in the private sector – and that will be tougher for them, but they should have thought of that before they started burgling,” he said.
As he spoke, Wandsworth Council in south London said it had served one of its housing tenants with an eviction notice after the tenant’s son was charged in court over disturbances in nearby Clapham Junction on Monday night.
The council was responding to a wave of public anger at the riots, which has led more than 160,000 people to sign an online petition calling for anyone convicted of criminal acts in the unrest to have their financial benefits taken away.
“If you live in a council house, you’re getting a house at a discount from what other people have to pay and with that should come some responsibility,” Mr Cameron told BBC television.
“For too long we’ve taken a too-soft attitude towards people that loot and pillage their own community.
“If you do that, you should lose your right to the sort of housing that you’ve had at subsidised rates.”
Wandsworth council, which is controlled by councillors from Mr Cameron’s Conservative party, said the eviction notice had been served against one of its tenants, and a judge would be asked to approve the request.
In a statement, it said the tenant had breached their tenancy agreement, which applies to everyone living in the household and prohibits them from a range of criminal and anti-social activities.
“There is no room on our estates for people who commit violent crimes, who show no consideration for their neighbours or harass, threaten, intimidate or cause disturbance to others,” said council leader Ravi Govindia.
Lawmakers are set to debate next month whether people convicted over the riots should lose their welfare payments, under a new system in which online petitions attracting more than 100,000 signatures are automatically reviewed by a parliamentary committee.
The petition on the rioters reads: “No taxpayer should have to contribute to those who have destroyed property, stolen from their community and shown a disregard for the country that provides for them.”