RESIDENTS on benefits are “shocked and appalled” by suggestions they could be advised to leave Brighton and Hove because it is no longer affordable for them.

Claimants said they would have to be dragged “kicking and screaming” from their city to make a new home in towns and cities with cheaper housing markets.

Community campaigners warned that driving the city’s poorest families out of the city would radically alter and harm the city’s distinctive charm.

One said the situation was getting so serious with unaffordable accommodation that shanty towns were a looming reality in the near future.

The outraged response follows a council report discussed this week in which council staff were advised to have “honest and open conversations” with benefit claiming families explaining that they could no longer afford to live in the city.

Campaigners fear the situation could worsen still further following George Osborne’s spending review announcement later today in which he is expected to announce that housing benefit claimants should pay the first ten per cent of their rent.

City experts say residents would not be able to find the additional £80 a month on limited incomes.

The introduction of Universal Credit in the city from next month is also predicted to reduce incomes for the poorest households with access to payments for the severely disabled of around £60 a week set to be removed.

Campaigners say previous changes to housing benefit in reducing it from 50 per cent to 30 per cent of market rent levels and pegging it to the consumer price index, which has dropped 0.1 per cent over the last year while rent rises in the city average around 10 per cent, had proved disastrous.

If private sector rents continue to increase at the same rate, the gap between rents and local housing benefit will increase up to £600 per month in five years.

Giuseppina Salamone, from CASE Central which advises low-income residents and welfare claimants, said increasing numbers of private landlords were not even accepting benefit-claiming residents.

She said: “The problem is Brighton and Hove is a wonderful city because of its diversity.

“You have people living on nothing but who are very creative or who do things politically.

“But it will all be different is this continues.

“People can’t live in Brighton and Hove but soon it will be anywhere.

“If you have nowhere you can go maybe we will end up with shanty towns.

“I’m really scared about what is happening.”

Steve Parry, community campaigner and advocacy worker on welfare issues, said the advice for council officers to recommend the poorest families to leave the city should be “resisted as strongly as possible”.

He said: “It would destroy the distinctive cultural diversity, the metropolitan nature, the unique nature of the place.

“It would totally destroy the communities of working people who were born and bred here.

“I think it is driven ideologically, there’s no shortage of research that indicates the impact these cuts are having.”