Tenant scheme for migrants can unify the communities

Homeowners should be encouraged to take migrant workers on as lodgers, says a new report.

28 October 2008. The Building and Social Housing Foundation (BSHF) has called on the government to take a tougher stand against the exploitation of migrant workers.

The report, by independent housing research charity BSHF, believes addressing the housing needs of migrant workers could benefit entire communities not just the workers themselves.

The charity called on central government, regional bodies, and local authorities to work together to improve the housing and employment conditions of immigrants.

The report said councils should have increased powers to clamp down on irresponsible landlords to ensure “decent and affordable accommodation” to tenants.

The Gangmasters

Licensing Authority should be strengthen by enhancing its powers to constrain those who seek to exploit low paid workers, including migrant workers.

Lodger schemes, where locals take in workers as paying guests, should be promoted and newcomers to an area should be provided with information on reasonable rent levels.

Other recommendations included greater attention to be paid to rural areas as well as cities. Many migrant workers are employed in agriculture and related industries.

BSHF director Diane Diacon said: “Migrant workers leave their country of origin to work or to seek work in another country but all too often find they are living in expensive, overcrowded and poor-quality accommodation.

“This situation obviously has an impact upon the migrant workers, but it also causes problems for those living nearby, who may find themselves next to overcrowded rental accommodation.”

“One of the key recommendations of this report is that all public bodies should seek to make their activities as inclusive as possible by ensuring that local services such as refuse collection are understood and used by migrant workers, but also that services aimed at migrant workers are more widely accessible to the local community.

"For example, ‘welcome packs’ have been successfully used to introduce migrant workers to areas, and could also be useful for other new residents.”

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