The Allocation of Social Housing to Foreign Nationals in London

April 15, 2012

The proportion of social housing in London being allocated to foreign nationals may well be much higher than the public has been led to believe. That is the conclusion of a paper issued today by think-tank Migrationwatch.

When this issue last received public attention in 2009, the IPPR produced a report for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) which claimed that less than 2% of all social housing residents were people who had moved to Britain in the previous five years[1]. They achieved this percentage by confining their study to those that had recently arrived and then making a comparison with the total of all existing lets throughout the country.

Meanwhile, the DCLG housing statistics have shown that the percentage of new social housing tenants who were foreign nationals has increased steadily over the past four years to 8.6% in 2010 – 11[2] ; of these nearly half were to EEA nationals.

Today’s research, is focused on London where the waiting list increased by 60% between 2002 and 2010 to 362,000. It shows that at least 11% of social housing lets in London were given to foreign nationals. In the boroughs of Ealing and Haringey half of all social housing lets went to foreign nationals.

However, there are huge gaps in the statistics collected. In some London Boroughs over one third of new tenants had no nationality recorded while, in others, only about half of new lets were included in the official CORE statistics[3]. As a result, there are a number of boroughs in which less than half the new lets are known to have been allocated to British nationals.

There is a pattern to this. Boroughs with large immigrant populations tend to have the largest gaps in the information that they make available and to be the least co-operative in responding to requests for information.

Commenting, Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of Migration Watch said “The present situation is a scandal. The records are in chaos. British people who have lived in the area for many years are given little or no priority. What is clear is that the proportion of new lets going to foreign nationals in London is far higher than has previously been admitted. We call for a full government enquiry to establish the facts. We also call for a new policy which would ensure that only those who are, or have become, British Citizens are considered for social housing. Foreign nationals would still get housing allowance but not social housing; there is no reason why they should be entitled to subsidised housing provided by British taxpayers while British citizens spend years in the queue”.


The following quote may be attributed to Frank Field MP in connection with the Migrationwatch paper on social housing:

"For years we have been told that British people on the waiting list for social housing are getting a fair deal. Yet, when the situation in London is examined, we find that, in reality, nobody has any idea how many new lets are going to foreign nationals and how many to British citizens.

This scandal must stop. I have a bill before Parliament that will ensure that those citizens who have made most contribution to society, who have paid their taxes and whose children have not caused trouble, for example, will have first choice of any housing available. This would be a major change in our Welfare State whereby benefits have to be earned rather than automatically allocated on need.

The government should back my bill. It should also, urgently, undertake an enquiry so that they can present an accurate report to the Electorate on who gets the available social housing and when".

2 Table 754
3 The Continuous Recording of Sales and Letting (CORE) is a national information source funded jointly by the Tenant Services Authority and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

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