Christopher Hope, London Telegraph, July 20, 2008
Many Britons fear their prospects are being limited because of the pressure put on housing and schools by immigrants arriving in the UK, a new report warns.
The claims come as it emerged that £1billion is being spent on putting up foreigners in council houses—despite two million people waiting for a home.
The report, titled Immigration and Social Cohesion in the UK, uncovered a stark divide in how parts of the UK adapt to new migrants.
While many people value their children growing up with cultural diversity, some feel their opportunities are reduced because of immigration.
There was particular concern around the competition for social housing, soaring house prices and school places.
Report author Mary Hickman, a Professor at London Metropolitan University, said: “We found that although many British people value the UK for being multi-ethnic and multicultural, poverty and lack of opportunities undermine social cohesion especially in certain parts of our towns and cities.
“A key factor influencing whether new migrants are accepted is the dominant story in each locality about who belongs there.”
The report also suggested that Gordon Brown should spend focus on tackling poverty rather than a “fixed notion” of Britishness to improve social cohesion.
Since taking over as Prime Minister last July, Mr Brown has consistently emphasised the importance of Britishness to bind the nation together.
However the Joseph Rowntree Foundation suggested that his time might be better spent dealing with “deprivation and how people connect”.
The competition for a limited supply of council housing has been one of the areas of key concern in the debate about immigration.
Since Labour came to power in 1997 the number of people on the waiting list for a council house has soared by 650,000 to 1.67million households.
Figures obtained by the Conservative MP James Clappson show that nearly £1billion is being spent on putting up foreigners in council houses—despite nearly two million households waiting for a new home.
Parliamentary answers show that 7,000 council houses were rented to foreigners from both inside and outside the European Union in 2006/7.
Given that it costs £134,000 to provide a council house, this means that £938million—including £430million of grants—is spent on providing social housing for foreigners.
Mr Clappison, a member of the Commons home affairs select committee, said: “This is one more example of the pressure placed upon housing and services by the present very high level of immigration permitted by the Government.
“The Government is completely failing to take into account the consequences of its policies”.
The provision of council housing to foreigners has proved to be controversial, with claims that it can cause tensions in some working class communities.
Critics said this was because the allocation of council houses was done on the basis of need.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of pressure group MigrationWatch, said: “The fact is that allocation is based on need which has the effect of giving priority to larger families which are more likely to be immigrant families.
“There is no question that this one of the causes of local tensions which will not be helped by a reflex policy of denial by this Government.”
However a report last month from the Department of Communities and Local Government claimed new migrants were not putting “significant pressure on social housing” because they are ineligible for council housing.
[Editors Note: At the time of posting, the story no longer seems to be available at the Telegraph. The URL at which the story was found (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/2309753/
Immigrants-raise-fears-of-limited-prospects-among-the-British.html} is the one also given at Google News at the time of posting.]
[Editors Note: 7/22: Original story is agains available.]