EHRC: Same proportion of immigrants and UK-born residents live in social housing
7th July 2009: Just over a week after reports described "queue jumping" by the immigrants a myth, another report by Equality and Human Rights Commission has confirmed the findings by saying there is no evidence of immigrants being given priority access to social housing.
The report says the same proportion of immigrants and UK-born residents live in social housing. After five years, when many immigrants get residency and become entitled to government help, just one in six live in social housing, exactly the same proportion as those born in Britain.
The report comes soon after Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s housing plans came under severe criticism and were condemned as ‘desperation’. Mr. Brown had asserted the law would change so local people got priority for social housing in England.
EHRC chairman Trevor Phillips says the failure of social housing supply is to be blamed for concerns that migrants jumped queues.
The study, based on figures from the 2007 Labour Force Survey, was carried out by the centre-left Institute for Public Policy Research think tank.
The study says 64 per cent of the people, who arrived in the UK within the last five years, live in private rented accommodation. Just 11 per cent of the new arrivals get help with housing. Almost all of them are asylum seekers.
Mr. Phillips says the government and social housing providers need to work together and address the issues that have resulted in the belief of immigrants unfairly benefiting from the system.
He says people’s perceptions are powerful. As such, it is imperative for the social housing providers and policy makers to collaborate in cultivating the understanding of the ground reality.
He holds that much of the public concern about the impact of migration on social housing has, at its heart, the failure of social housing supply to meet the demands of the population.
The poorer the area, the longer the waiting lists, therefore the greater the tension.
Only last month, Labour decided to give the British-born families preference over the immigrants in the housing sector, instead of building more houses to beat the far-Right British National Party,
Under the previous rules, council housing was allocated on need basis. The homeless and those with young children were first to benefit.
It was being felt by some that the rules were helping the newly arrived immigrants, as they were bringing large families to the UK. In the process, they were overtaking smaller British families; some of them waiting in the queue for years.
But the opposition and immigration groups reacted to the decision of change in policy by asserting the Prime Minister was allowing the BNP to set the political agenda.