Skip to main content

Go to:   
Guardian Unlimited
Guardian Unlimited Web
The ObserverPolitics
Home UK news World news Politics Business & Media Comment & Leaders Focus 7 Days
Sport Review Travel Cash Observer Woman The Observer Magazine Food Music

  Search The Observer

Text-only version >
Send it to a friend
Save story >
  The Observer  
Front page
Story index

 Recent articles
Veteran sent to the crease as energetic Tories strive to dominate the summer

Tories plan to make £14bn savings in radical move to slash red tape

British firm under scrutiny for export of Bosnian guns to Iraq

Salmond points the way to independence

Academy exclusion 'is selection by back door'

Elderly 'are being denied human rights'

Prostitutes face jail under tougher law

Tory plan to curb forced marriages

Denis MacShane: David, the EU's here to stay, so join in

Ruaridh Nicoll: We must use Salmond's 'great debate' to strengthen Britain

UDA should disarm and 'get lost', says Mad Dog

Clive Aslet: Memories of the pyres haunt me still

Andrew Rawnsley: You can rely on Gordon for loos, but for an election?

Alastair Campbell: Goodbye charisma, hello new politics

Henry Porter: Each DNA swab brings us closer to a police state


Hodge call for rethink over immigrants

Nicholas Watt, political editor
Sunday May 20, 2007
The Observer

New immigrants should have their rights to social housing downgraded in favour of local families who feel aggrieved by the changing face of Britain, the Industry Minister Margaret Hodge argues in today's Observer.

In an outspoken intervention, which was last night condemned by the Refugee Council, Hodge calls for a dramatic shift away from the needs of migrant families to reassure Britain's 'poorest white communities' who feel abandoned. 'At present we prioritise the needs of an individual migrant family over the entitlement that others feel they have to resources in the community,' Hodge writes. 'So a recently arrived family with four or five children living in a damp and overcrowded privately rented flat with the children suffering from asthma will usually get priority over a family with less housing need who have lived in the area for three generations and are stuck at home with the grandparents.

'We should look at policies where the legitimate sense of entitlement felt by the indigenous family overrides the legitimate need demonstrated by the new migrants. We must debate these difficult questions.' Hodge, who writes that she is herself an immigrant, has long called for more action to address the fears of deprived white communities who feel they are losing out as large numbers of migrants arrive at British shores. She has seen many voters in her east London constituency of Barking flock to the BNP which claims that housing is being taken by new arrivals.

Nancy Kelly, head of UK and international policy at the council, said: 'The way to counter some of the views that are put forward by the far-right parties is not by trying to follow their lead.' Kelly added that asylum seekers are not entitled to council housing and arrivals from the new members of the EU face restrictions on benefit entitlements.

'People who are recognised as refugees are entitled to council housing but on exactly the same basis as a UK national, on the basis of need,' she said.

 Special report
Immigration, asylum and refugees

Immigration, asylum and refugees: archived articles

Home Office: Immigration and Nationality Directorate
Human Rights Watch: refugees
International Committee of the Red Cross: refugees
Moving Here
Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002
Refugee Council
United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)
US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants


Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007