Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The Social Housing Controversy

How can the same story throw up such different headlines? In the Mail it was 'How ten percent of state housing is taken up by immigrants', everywhere else is was some version of 'Immigrants do not get housing priority, study shows' [courtesy of that bastion of liberal thought the Telegraph]. The facts: "Only 1.8% of social tenants had moved to Britain within the past five years. Some 87.8 per cent were British-born and 10 per cent of foreigners who had been living in Britain for more than five years", to quote the Telegraph again.

Yes, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) study, conducted by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), certainly puts a lie to Gordon Brown's idea about giving priority to 'local' people with regard to social housing uptake (even if his idea would have proved to be against current legislation).

Of course that didn't stop the BNP scrunching up their rather narrow collective foreheads as they tried to tackle the statistics and come up with a refutation of the IPPR figures. They turned directly to the original 2007 IPPR study and came to some rather stupid conclusions, needless to say.

After quoting from figures for country of birth vs. percentage living in local authority or housing association housing that show that 80% of Somalis, 49% of Turks, 41% of Bangladeshis, 39% of Ghanaians, etc. live in public housing (they leave out figures for Republic of Ireland 17= with Uganda at 17% and Italians at 10%) their piece says "Despite these figures showing clearly that immigrant groups occupy a massively disproportionate amount of public housing compared to their percentage of the population". The problem is that the figures say nothing about the actual amount living in public housing only the relative numbers of those who have qualified for it and taken it up.*

They then go on to argue, "In the 2007 IPPR report, a study was made of the immigrant groups’ percentage claims for child support. The higher the percentage, the greater the number of children". Wrong again, it is far more likely to be related to age. The migrant population constitutes a much younger population than the aging UK one and OAP's don't clain Child Benefit.**

Which brings us back to the Mail. After trying to have its cake and eat it by both showing what an appalling lot these foreigners are (occupying nearly 400,000 homes, more than 50% of whom live in London, and that 40% of those born abroad who live in the capital are living in subsidised housing i.e. roughly one million "immigrant family members" as they put it) and by laying into Brown, they have to concede that there is no queue jumping. They also take a dig at the Home Office for its dispersal policy which means that migrants awaiting a decision on the right ot remain tend to get concentrated in run-down social housing which tends to be on sink estates which tend to be the BNP's most fertile recruiting grounds. Which is of course justifies, the problem is that they use it not as a stick to beat the Home Office with but as one to beat migration and migrants in general.

* Most of the groups quoted represent only 0.1% of the total population as opposed to 89.9% of the UK-born population. Maybe they should try cross referencing the figures for actual population size (Table 4.2) with those for social housing uptake (5.13). Another obvious point they might try taking in to account is that more UK nationals will own their a home than will people recently granted leave to stay in the country (Table 5.7).
** See also the figures for average household size in Table 4.3.

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