Social Housing In London: What Is The True Story?


Housing, Population

There have long been suspicions that the public
have not been told the full story about the impact of immigration on the queues
for social housing.  Research by
Migrationwatch into the situation in London, published today, confirms that
there are important questions to be answered. 
It finds that less than half the new lets by London councils included
the nationality of the tenant.

The housing crisis that has developed in London
means that the waiting list is ten times the number of new lets each year. That
means that many, especially those with smaller families, will never get into
social housing.  One fifth of all social
housing in London is occupied by foreign nationals yet there has been little
public debate on who should get social housing. Only a small proportion of
the people that apply will get social housing. That is why it
is there is an open debate and transparency about who
should get it.

It is important to be clear that the debate
should be about foreign nationals, not the foreign born. Many of the latter have become British
citizens and, of course, should be treated like any other British citizen. However, foreign nationals are those who
have not even been in Britain long enough to qualify or who do not wish to
become citizens.

There can be no debate without the facts yet
there are serious gaps in the information available.   One third of new lets by London’s Local Authorities
are not even recorded in the official CORE data (Continuous Recording of
Sales and Lettings)
while others submit data but without the nationality of new tenants. Indeed, four London councils who, together,
own a quarter of London’s local authority owned stock do not submit any information
at all.

It is particularly striking that, when two other
London Councils were challenged by Migrationwatch, the nationality data
virtually disappeared in the returns that they submitted to the government the
following year. Councils are legally
obliged to submit data to CORE but can get away with omitting nationality on the
claim that this particular question is not compulsory.

Commenting, Sir Andrew Green, Chairman Migrationwatch
UK, said “It is deeply unsatisfactory that the information on new lets should
be so chaotic given the huge importance of this issue to so many families. The government must make the nationality
question compulsory.  This could provide
the basis for a renewed debate on the criteria by which social housing should
be allocated”.

Commenting on the Migrationwatch report, Frank
Field MP and Nicholas Soames MP, Co-chairmen of the Cross Party group on
Balanced Migration
, said “This is a huge issue for many people. The government
must now launch a full enquiry into what is going on in the allocation of social housing in London.”

See Briefing Paper No 7.15

3rd January 2013

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