Amnesty for illegal immigrants would overwhelm social housing provision

July 11, 2006

If an amnesty were to be granted to the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants thought to be in the UK it would take 20-30 years – at the present rate of building - to provide social housing for them, says a new report out today. And it would only be possible to meet even this timetable if no further housing was allocated to those now on the waiting list.

This is one of the key findings of the report by think-tank Migrationwatch ‘The impact of asylum and possible amnesty on social housing’ (Read Report) which also points out that the number of asylum seekers granted permission to stay in the UK in recent years has exceeded the number of new social houses built in the same period by nearly 50,000.

‘The fair allocation of social housing is extremely difficult to achieve at the best of times,’ said Migrationwatch chairman, Sir Andrew Green. ‘When you add in the unprecedented rise in asylum seekers granted permission to stay here in the last few years and then consider an amnesty against a background of low levels of construction, there is a real risk of harming social cohesion.’

He said that applicants who are granted asylum or exceptional leave to remain (ELR) in the United Kingdom become eligible for social housing and, while eligibility does not mean automatic access to social housing, it is likely that the circumstances of people given such status, particularly those with families, will warrant their being placed high on the priority list.

‘We support granting refuge to those genuinely fleeing persecution but we also want to see joined up government. The government should have realised that the numbers to whom they were granting permission to stay were very large in comparison to their provision for new social housing,’ he said.

Sir Andrew said that those calling for an amnesty for illegal immigrants had clearly given no thought whatsoever to its impact on social housing.

‘To listen to the siren voices calling for an amnesty would not only encourage still further illegal immigration but it would devastate the housing lists which are already under great pressure as a result of immigration. There is, rightly, overwhelming opposition to such a move, as our opinion poll showed only this week, with 72% against the idea and only 11% in favour,’ he said.

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