Macer Hall – Daily Express August 17, 2011
HARD-pressed taxpayers are facing a crippling £1billion annual bill for providing social homes for immigrants, a report warned last night.
Researchers forecast about 415,000 new council houses or other publicly-owned properties need to be built in the next 25 years to cope with soaring demand from the massive influx of arrivals over the last decade. It is equivalent to building 16,600 new social homes for migrants a year, or 45 every day.
Critics warned that Britain faces an unpalatable choice between a vast taxpayer-funded building programme or spiralling waiting lists for social homes in its towns and cities. The expected cost of building new social housing as a direct result of immigration was estimated in a report from the population think tank MigrationWatch.
Sir Andrew Green, its chairman, said: “The impact of immigration on the availability of social housing for British people has been airbrushed out for too long.
“Either the Government must cut immigration very substantially as they have promised or they must invest very large sums in the construction of extra social housing.”
Figures in the report showed immigrants to the UK from outside the European Union are 30 per cent more likely than the indigenous population to live in social housing. It is far higher in some immigrant communities.
Statistics cited in the report showed that four out of five of Somali-born immigrants lived in social housing. Nearly half of those from Turkey also lived in social housing, as did 41 per cent of those from Bangladesh. In contrast, the proportion of British-born residents living in social housing was 17 per cent.
Analysis in the report based on official population projections predicted that net immigration will add 2,075,000 people to Britain’s total over the next 25 years.
Given the current proportion of 20 per cent of migrant households requiring social accommodation, Migrationwatch predicted 415,000 new publicly-owned homes would be needed at a cost of £25billion.
The report said: “An increase of this magnitude in social housing will have significant implications for public spending.”
It added: “Because of the widely recognised perverse effects of the benefits system, social housing tenants tend to have a disproportionately high rate of economic inactivity and unemployment, thus making it impossible for them to generate tax revenues for the Exchequer.”
It pointed out that most newly-arrived migrants from outside the EU are not entitled to social accommodation. But those granted indefinite leave to remain, which usually requires at least five years of UK residence, are entitled to apply. And asylum seekers who have been granted refugee status are also eligible for social housing.
The report pointed out that the period of high net immigration from 2002 coincided with a 60 per cent increase in the length of waiting lists for social accommodation. The regions with the longest waiting lists were London, Yorkshire and Humberside, that also experienced high immigration levels.
A Government spokesman said yesterday: “We are taking action to reduce net migration back to the tens of thousands.
“Our consultations on restricting settlement rights and the family route are ongoing.
“The Government’s Localism Bill will change the law to give local councils greater power to manage their own waiting lists and free up more social homes for needy local people.”