200,000 'social homes' given to immigrants
By Gary Cleland
Last Updated: 1:58am BST 02/07/2007
Five times more immigrants are given social housing than previously claimed, the Government has admitted.
Just weeks ago ministers insisted only one per cent of social housing is given to immigrants, in an attempt to quell widespread fears that they are treated better by local authorities than people born in Britain.
But after an investigation by ITV's Tonight With Trevor McDonald programme, the Government has admitted that 200,000 of Britain's social homes – five per cent of the total – were given to immigrants last year.
There is a waiting list of 1.5 million for the four million social houses in Britain.
Priority for houses is given to those most in need. Immigrant families cannot automatically be put to the top of the queue, but often fall into needy groups by being homeless or living in overcrowded accommodation.
The Government's original figures were published on May 21 in the midst of a controversy surrounding an article by Margaret Hodge, then the industry minister, claiming British families had more right to social housing than new migrants.
An internal Labour row saw then-deputy leadership hopefuls Alan Johnson and John Cruddas rebuke Mrs Hodge, with Johnson accusing her of using the “language of the BNP”.
However, the Government was yesterday forced to confirm that the five per cent figure claimed by the television report was correct. But it denied any intention to mislead, claiming it had simply updated its calculation system since May.
A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “It is bizarre that people should criticise the government for carrying out further analysis.”
Unconvinced, Sir Andrew Green, of Migrationwatch UK, said: “If the Government doesn't know how many foreigners are in social housing they damn well ought to.”
29 June 2007: Bush legacy in tatters as immigrants bill fails
29 June 2007: Marriage rate hit by crackdown on immigrants
21 April 2007: 'Immigration threat to Britain as single nation'