People on benefits are frequently being discussed in appalling terms while government wonders why private landlords are increasingly reluctant to support low income households, adding pressure to frontline homelessness services everywhere.
Yet again we see immigration posited by politicians in a negative way that affords no ‘balance’ or attempt at raising awareness or to educate people. Deeply cynical politics - but instead of getting angry about it, a lot of people seem to be sucking it up, which seems crazy to me.
No doubt there are all sorts of fears about Croatians and Bulgarians coming here to access the welfare system when their countries accede to the EU. I find that quite interesting – I am more concerned about the ones who come here with the best intentions, things don’t work out but they are unable to access the welfare system. They will no doubt be represented in future rough sleeping figures, along with their entrenched and intractable issues that are so costly to tackle in the longer term.
So anyway, I wonder if ‘strengthening the rules on social housing’ is in fact more about competing with UKIP and using people’s unfounded fear of immigration to sway votes than it is about anything else - but as they have said in their statement - it's not about reality.
Perhaps a public perception that lots of people receive £104,000 in Housing Benefit a year? Oh wait - the Benefit Cap roll out starts next week...I wonder where that perception started...George Osborne’s budget day speech back in June 2010?
DWP state: ”Regarding the second [FOI] request, in August 2010, our records show that there were fewer than 5 housing benefit recipients receiving over £1,916 per week (equivalent to around £100,000 per year assuming the recipient remains on benefit for a continuous year).”
So to conclude this rambling interlude in your day, if indeed, you have made it this far - the country should be worried about its perceptions, what and who they are being generated by, how and when they are being generated, and the consequences of any national policy directive grounded in ‘perception’ rather than in ‘reality’.
ONS reported in August 2012 that it estimated the non-British proportion of the English population was 8%. “Non-British consists of all other nationalities except British, apart from Northern Ireland where it consists of all other nationalities except British and Irish.” Perhaps we should be celebrating a reasonably proportional representation in our allocations system rather than declaring this an unacceptable threshold to have reached?
On balance, I think both previous research and the government’s announcement indicate “the failure of social housing supply to meet the demands of the population.” is causing a certain perception. It doesn’t actually mean any migrants get preferential treatment, or that they are jumping queues. What we can see is a roughly proportionate situation when looking at the composition of our population. There is a statutory framework, and associated guidance - along with freedoms for local authorities to set their own local connection qualifying criteria - already in place to support the appropriate levels of access for migrant households to the welfare system.
So a sarcastic person unafraid to stray from one subject into another using a tangential thread might start to wonder what other perceptions we will seek to legislate for in future...
“Ministers want to tackle the widespread perception that the way social housing is allocated is unfair and favours foreign migrants over local people and the armed forces.”
Thanks government - for openly taking an important stance: prioritising the ‘perception’ of what’s happening, and not being afraid to openly shy away from dealing with the otherwise diversionary concept of ‘reality’.
For balance, here’s some evidence – some of which was reflected in earlier posts (and some of it very clearly wasn’t) but I’ll drop in some pertinent quotes and web links for ease of reference:
“The eligibility of foreign nationals to an allocation of social rented housing is limited by statutory regulations.”
“the discrimination and disadvantage that minority ethnic and immigrant households have encountered in the social housing allocation process, points to a series of barriers that are likely to restrict access to the sector for new immigrants and migrants.”
“Available evidence suggests that new immigrants and migrants are rarely skilled players of the welfare system and often unaware of their legal rights, unclear about the opportunities afforded by the social rented sector and unsure how to access social housing.”
“Available data suggests that relatively small numbers of new immigrants and migrants are accessing the social rented sector.”
“Analysis of social housing allocation policies showed no evidence that social housing allocation favours foreign migrants over UK citizens. But there is a small amount of evidence which suggests that they may, unintentionally, discriminate against ethnic minority communities who may also have less understanding than white groups, of their housing rights and housing allocation.”
“Despite the lack of evidence that shows social housing allocation systems favour one community over another, or to show that migrant populations are disproportionately committing tenancy fraud, perceptions that migrants displace British social housing applicants persist.”
“Much of the public concern about the impact of migration on social housing has, at its roots, the failure of social housing supply to meet the demands of the population.”
“Foreign-born populations who have arrived in the UK during the last five years are overwhelmingly housed in the private rental sector, and not in social housing. New migrants to the UK over the last five years make up less than two per cent of the total of those in social housing; some 90 per cent of those who live in social housing are UK born.”
Live table 754 on social lettings has informed the government statement, and suggests that 9% of lettings to households new to social housing are made to foreign nationals. In that sense government has quoted CORE data:
We could talk about the accuracy of CORE data but that would be a red herring. The question is:
So is this a problem?
Damn I can’t resist posting something. I do generally try so very hard not to. My emotional maturity isn’t really up to it. I’m only 12. I don’t even exist in the outside world. I’m actually a beam of light, or a hairless bisexual intergalactic albino hermaphrodite sloth, or a grown man who ought to know better. You decide.
Gosh I do hope I can come off smug enough for this thread though. Here goes...
Firstly, the point Chris made above at 9.06pm on 25th March is excellent - it entirely chimes with my experience and clearly with that of others in this thread. Specifically where he says:
“...his posturing feeds racism and xenophobia, even amongst rational people”
We are all clearly entitled to our own opinion – mine is that the country is slipping further into a mire of damaging irrationality. It’s gratifying to see here that I am not the only one. Very sensible people are making rather uncharacteristic comments that scapegoat and stereotype whole swathes of people. Then there are those who form and express very strong opinions that are transparently grounded in the bedrock of ignorance.
Mostly these negative views are directed at people in receipt of benefits (many of whom are, in fact, in work and bringing vital skills to our economy and public services) and at people coming to this country from abroad (many of whom are, in fact, in work and bringing vital skills to our economy and public services).
It’s surprising really - these are not usually the elements in society one might expect to take a beating during times of economic hardship are they? So perhaps there is no need to be vigilant when it starts happening here? Perhaps we should blithely carry on because after all, there is so little for us to learn from the social and political history of the modern world in this regard...
Zeus Manifold-Chimpley has not added any discussions yet.
Might be a bit late here with the ol' response but in answer to this question:
"When it gets to next year and people are unable to pay their rent and are put through the courts, will they be declared intentionally homeless and the LA will have no duty to rehouse or will it be unintentional?"
LAs trying on IH decisions in these situations are on a hiding to nothing and any client so affected should challenge the decisions. I can't see how an IH decision could stick.
If there is alternative accommodation available to move to that is affordable - is irrelevant - you cannot be IH from somewhere you don't and never have lived.
If you don't take up employment the test is so difficult to apply I can't see how it is worth even bothering to try.
Burnip v Birmingham 2012, r v hillingdon 1988, r v wandsworth 1994 - all support that claimants should not be expected to make up rent shortfalls from other subsistence benefits.
Statutory Codes of Guidance on Homelessness 2006 and also 2009 - both clear on affordability, both strongly suggest that at the point the benefit change renders accommodation unaffordable, the client is effectively homeless.
LAs will owe the main duty to priority need cases. Let's hope they're being proactive in partnership now to prevent homelessness and support these households in the first place wherever possible. Not that I am not suggesting this anything other than a herculean task.
Whether they choose to accept a duty and then offer a PRSO to end it is another matter of course - but then that will depend on PRS supply.
Hope that helps, although it does come 4 months after the question was posted. Ho hum.