By Andrew Green
Chairman of Migration Watch UK
The Daily Mail, London, 30 June, 2009
The Government's announcement yesterday that they are handing councils new powers to give local people priority on the waiting list for social housing is a clear admission that they have been misleading us over the huge impact of immigration on housing.
For years, they have been in total denial, refusing even to discuss how immigration has affected the supply of housing.
Now, at last, they have acknowledged that this is an issue which must be tackled. Supply of social housing has fallen far behind the demand for it because waiting lists have grown by over 60 per cent in just six years.
One major reason for this is the number of asylum seekers who have been granted asylum - or other forms of protection which entitle them to remain in Britain - and offered social housing.
Politicians frequently assure us that asylum seekers do not get social housing. This is true up to a point, as they are given private rented accommodation at public expense while their cases are decided.
But as soon as they are granted permission to stay, they can go on the housing lists. Astonishingly, over the past ten years the Government has granted more asylum seekers permission to stay in Britain than they have actually built social housing for. So, inevitably, the waiting lists have got ever longer.
This is not to suggest that we should not provide housing to genuine refugees. But surely the Government should have provided for the extra housing demand that their own policies have generated.
So who on these bulging lists actually gets a council house? Currently, it is decided on the basis of 'need' which, in turn, is heavily influenced by family size. And once granted residence, a migrant or an asylum seeker can bring over his entire family and thereby move up the priority list.
Of course local working people have seen this happening for years in their own communities. They know perfectly well that the Government have not been telling the whole truth - but few were prepared to listen.
But a major study called 'The New East End', published in 2006, revealed the true extent of the problem. The researchers from the Young Foundation looked at what had happened in Bethnal Green in London's East End over the past generation.
They found that the Whitehall concept of 'need' had, in practice, favoured Bangladeshi workers who were beginning to bring over their families.
Young British workers with smaller families were pushed out to Essex, away from their roots and away from their parents, who stayed put in their council houses in East London.
The outcome was that family and social bonding between Bangladeshi families was strengthened - while the traditional working-class family structure of the British workers, especially the role of grandmothers, was severely weakened. The researchers found that the white working class were seething with resentment.
The Government rushed to assure their supporters that there was no truth in any of this, insisting that it was all down to scare tactics. Taking advantage of local resentment, the BNP started making inroads.
In contrast to the major parties, they were willing to speak frankly about the issue - even if their solutions were distasteful. But when, in May 2007, the local MP, Margaret Hodge, remarked publicly on the advances the BNP was making in the local elections and suggested something should be done about it, she was jumped on by the Left of her party and told to shut up.
A report was subsequently commissioned by the then Commission for Racial Equality which conveniently concluded that there was no evidence that newly arrived migrants were being allocated housing in preference to UK-born people. But that was to dodge the real issue.
The rules for allocating social housing might have been administered scrupulously. But it was the system itself that was unfair. Little or no credit was given for the length of time people had been waiting for housing, nor for the strength of their ties to the locality.
As a result, white working class people were indeed being leapfrogged by new arrivals with large families. That is the background to yesterday's announcement. Only now have the Government been forced into long-overdue action because their own supporters are deserting them in droves.
But it is not just social housing that has been coming under such pressure because of immigration. All housing has been affected - yet the Government refuse to acknowledge this, let alone discuss it.
All over the country, despite deep opposition, planning authorities have been told how many more houses they must build. They have no idea how much of this is caused by immigration - and nor do the local residents.
But Migrationwatch dug out the figure from the last line of the last table of a technical paper produced by the then Office of the Deputy Prime Minister - and, astonishingly, it is nearly 40 per cent of all new homes.
This figure comes from the government predictions of new households which are issued every two years. The latest set shows that 252,000 households will be formed every year until 2031.
They also show that without immigration, there would be only 153,000 households. In other words 99,000 households, or 39 per cent, will be caused, not by existing immigrants, but by future immigrants and their families.
Put another way, that is a requirement for a new home every five minutes for new immigrants over the next 23 years. This is an astronomical number. No wonder the Government avoid any discussion of it.
As we face the most serious financial crisis for two generations and as the Government find themselves virtually broke, one has to ask, who is going to pay for all this? That is another subject the Government do not wish to discuss.