A report for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has found claims that immigrants 'jump the queue' for social housing are a myth. Just 1.8% of social tenants have moved to the UK within the last five years, 10% were born abroad but have lived in the UK for more than five years, and nearly 88% are UK born.
This belief that immigrants are given preference over UK nationals has been a huge recruiting tool for the BNP in recent years, so we're pleased to see it getting its ass whupped. The timing also gives a bit of a kicking to Gordon Brown's plans to give local people priority on housing waiting lists, which was seen as pandering to far right supporters, since it seems - oh, look at that - it already happens.
Clearly the stats are going to vary around the country, with the Daily Mail claiming foreign born people occupy 40% of London's social housing. (Hmm. Nice, not-inflammatory-at-all headline by the way.) But what this all basically boils down to is there simply not being enough social housing, with people casting around for reasons and scapegoats for why they're not getting the accommodation they need. As Trevor Phillips said today,
"Much of the public concern about the impact of migration on social housing has, at its heart, the failure of social housing supply to meet the demands of the population. The poorer the area, the longer the waiting lists, therefore the greater the tension."
Simples. And with a huge programme of council house building on the way (public spending cuts permitting, we presume), the pressure could be eased a little. In the meantime, perhaps this report will go some way to addressing a few of the prejudices that seem to linger like a bad smell.