James Slack, Daily Mail (London), August 8, 2007
Four in ten homes built over the past ten years have been needed because of immigration, figures have revealed.
Nearly 600,000 properties have had to be constructed because of the new arrivals since Labour came to power in 1997, said researchers at the House of Commons Library.
This is three times more than the number of homes needed for immigrants under the last Conservative government.
The library, a team of independent researchers who carry out work for MPs, said an average of 19,000 immigrant households a year were established between 1992 and 1997.
But the figure has since soared to 66,000 a year, which has helped to price many British first-time buyers out of the market.
Between 1997 and 2005, the latest period for which figures are available, 592,000 houses were needed solely for immigrants.
With Eastern Europeans continuing to pour in over the past two years, this total is certain to have climbed even higher.
The research raises huge questions about Gordon Brown’s housebuilding programme.
The Prime Minister is planning to build three million homes by 2020, after accepting it is hard for first-time buyers to get on the property ladder.
He said providing more affordable housing is “vital” for the country’s future and is to raise the annual target for new homes from 200,000 to 240,000 by 2016.
But, based on current levels of immigration, 1.2million—or 40 per cent—of the new homes will be needed to house immigrants.
The Government has claimed only a third of demand for new houses—33 per cent—comes from immigrants.
Tory MP James Clappison, who requested the figures, said by reducing the number of immigrants, the Government could build fewer houses and limit the damage to the countryside.
Mr Clappison, a member of Westminster’s home affairs committee, added: “These figures are a direct result of the polices adopted by the current Government since 1997.
“The number of new migrant households is more than three times the rate of the last years of the Conservative government, and a huge proportion of demand for housing is now the result of migration.
“Gordon Brown is having to build more and more houses because of the people his Government is allowing in, and it shows a complete lack of grasp of what is going on.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “There are legitimate concerns about managing some of the effects of migration on communities. We are listening to these concerns.
“That is why we have taken a more gradual approach to opening our labour market to people from Bulgaria and Romania by maintaining restrictions and introducing quotas on low-skilled jobs.”
2 in 10 immigrants on ‘skilled’ migrant worker scheme on minimum wage
Immigrants given special visas to fill “highly skilled” jobs are working here as taxi drivers and food packers.
Two in ten of the 50,000 “elite” new arrivals are earning below the average wage, Immigration Minister Liam Byrne admitted.
Critics said it is proof the programme has been abused.
From 2002 the scheme offered foreigners the chance to settle in the UK permanently after they had lived here for four years.
To be accepted, migrants had to show qualifications which would allow them to work in jobs such as medicine or engineering.
But there was no requirement for them to have secured a job here first, and many instead entered low-skilled professions.
Last year, Mr Byrne tightened up the requirements to join the scheme and said those who had exploited it could be deported.
But a report by peers and MPs said the changes breach the migrants’ human rights and should be scrapped.