No bias in housing allocation to migrants

The vast majority of people who live in social housing in Britain were born in the UK, according to a research study published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The study found that less than two per cent of all social housing residents are people who have moved to Britain in the last five years and that nine out of ten people who live in social housing were born in the UK. It found no evidence to support the perception that new migrants are getting priority over UK born residents. Nor was there any evidence of abuse of the system, including ‘queue jumping’ or providing false information.

The report identifies a number of factors which could be contributing to these perceptions, including:

  • The belief that privately owned flats in blocks which were previously social housing are still “owned by the council”
  • New developments often include social housing as well as privately owned accommodation with little visual difference between the two
  • The Borders Agency is using empty social housing to accommodate asylum seekers temporarily, which may be fuelling the idea that they are ‘queue jumping’
  • Some ex-local authority, mixed-tenure housing association and key-worker homes have high numbers of residents from particular ethnic groups – for example hospital and care home workers;
  • clusters of people of the same background living in a neighbourhood may serve to entrench beliefs about unfair advantages.

The reduction in the social housing stock as existing tenants exercise their right to buy; fewer new builds over the last few decade and the increase in the number of households in the UK, caused by greater life-expectancy, marital breakdown and to a lesser extent, immigration have all led to increased demand for social housing.

The report recommends that public concerns about the effects of migration on housing should be addressed by policy makers at a local level. It also suggests that more needs to be done to increase people’s understanding of entitlement to social housing, as the lack of transparency in the process may perpetuate the belief that the system itself is unfair.

For more information, and to download a copy of the Social housing allocation and immigrant communities report, go to the Equality and Human Rights Commission website

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