Shadow ministers have written to every London council demanding to know if they are planning to rehouse people in private rental accommodation outside the capital.
Jack Dromey, shadow housing minister, and Tessa Jowell, shadow London minister, acted after it emerged that 12 of the 32 councils in London are considering doing exactly that.
A poll by the magazine Inside Housing found that seven of the 32 ruled out the move, with the remainder undecided or unable to respond.
The row was ignited by Newham Council, which is trying to house 500 families outside London.
Dromey has also written to housing minister Grant Shapps accusing him of being out of touch with the housing crisis. He wrote: “Soaring rents and collapsing affordable house building are making families homeless and forcing them to move hundreds of miles from home, but we don’t know the full picture.”
Meanwhile, the Chartered Institute of Housing has said moves by London councils to house people outside the capital were inevitable after caps to Local Housing Allowance, the benefit paid to people in private rented accommodation.
CIH chief executive Grainia Long said on the Today programme that “800,000 homes will be unavailable to people because of the previous changes made by the Government”. The CIH estimates that between 35,000 and 40,000 households in London alone are affected by the benefit caps.
CIH president Robin Lawler said: “I think we always knew that was going to happen, with the twin pressures of welfare reform and increasing private rents and the pressure of the Olympics in some parts of London. It will be interesting to see how that spins out.”