Hodge call for rethink over immigrants
Nicholas Watt, political editor
Sunday May 20, 2007
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.
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.
Human Rights Watch: refugees
International Committee of the Red Cross: refugees
Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002
United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)
US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants