The Immigration Bill does little to solve the real housing issues

This week the government launched a consultation into their proposal to require private landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants.

Jenny Pennington is  a Researcher at IPPR

This week the government launched a consultation into their proposal to require private landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants.

Others have pointed out that the plan is likely to be unworkable (especially in the absence of a register of private landlords) and could have unintended consequences (including discrimination against legal migrants and minorities).

These are both valid criticisms, but the real flaw is what the proposals don’t achieve. The government’s plans are a missed opportunity to tackle the real challenges for housing in the UK.

Migration does put pressure on housing in some areas, particularly within the private rented sector, and there is a need for government action here. Immigration is estimated to be responsible for around 40 per cent of new housing demand, temporary migration can unsettle communities through high ‘population churn’.

Unscrupulous landlords can exploit new arrivals with poor quality, overpriced and sometimes dangerous living conditions (sometimes referred to as ‘beds in sheds’). 75 per cent of recently-arrived migrants live in the private rented sector. But to date the government have been resistant to regulating this growing and often dysfunctional area. This week’s proposals mark the first attempt.

The proposal has been presented as an attempt to crack down on ‘beds in sheds’, but is likely to be ineffective at achieving this aim. Landlords who are renting out sub-standard accommodation are already flouting a numbers of regulations. It is the lack of enforcement of the laws we have, not a need for new ones, that is allowing these dangerous practices to continue.

Reduced local authority budgets that mean less funding available for enforcement is the real pressure point here.

The proposal is also unlikely to be successful in its other aim, reducing irregular migration, for similar reasons. Last week a report by the chief inspector of the UKBA revealed that the department failed to follow up on thousands of leads on the whereabouts of irregular immigrants. Without additional resources these new provisions will do little to boost the government’s enforcement capacity.

Identifying and removing migrants who have no right to be in the UK is a legitimate aim; however it isn’t a solution to the housing crisis. Estimates put the numbers of irregular migrants in the UK at around 615,000 (although there is considerable uncertainty about the true figure, and recent processes may have substantially reduced numbers).

We know that they often live in overcrowded accommodation – so that their use of housing is far lower than the average of 2.3 people per home. Government reviews have suggested that UK needs to build 290,500 homes a year just to keep pace with demand.

Therefore, even if all undocumented migrants were to be identified and removed from the UK (something that is probably impossible and likely to cost around £10.5 billion pounds) this would only release enough housing to ease demand for at most one year. Housing undersupply dates back long before net migration reached today’s levels, and needs different policy solutions.

In addition, the proposals do little to address the real pressures on housing related to immigration. Temporary migration in particular can lead to high concentrations of overcrowded housing with rapid tenant turnover.

For example in Thetford in Norfolk, the number of houses like this rose from 40 to 400 over four years in response to migration. This can limit neighbourly interaction and lead to annoyances (e.g. if many households are unfamiliar with local rubbish disposal rules).

However, as the vast majority of the migrants living in these homes are in the UK legally, these proposals will leave these issues untouched. Local authorities need real regulatory powers to control the numbers of short term private rented lets available in their area.

Action on these issues would do far more to resolve the real problems of immigration and housing.

The government have shown with these proposals that they are not against introducing regulation to tame the private rented sector. But for political reasons they have chosen to focus on irregular migration rather than addressing any of the more substantial issues in the private rented sector (including some linked to migration).

What we need now are more workable solutions that address the real problems experienced by local communities, and fewer political gimmicks.

10 Responses to “The Immigration Bill does little to solve the real housing issues”

  1. Forums4Justice

    – it’s always about the money – our money – they are not our friends

    Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, Jeb Bush, the Koch brothers, CAIR, Fox News, Scott Walker, George W. Bush, Rand Paul, Reince Priebus, + the 14 Republican Amnesty Pukes who were paid off http://bit.ly/17U4zCM

    Along with:

    American Action Network.

    Americans for a Conservative Direction, led by former Gov. Haley Barbour

    Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the Koch brothers’ political group

    Faith and Freedom Coalition

    U.S. Chamber of Commerce

    In an attempt to win Hispanic votes , the Top 1% is supporting Marco Rubio,

    for 2016, while heavily promoting S.744, the Senate’s Immigration Reform Bill.

    Not to mention, their gaining an almost unlimited supply of cheap labor,

    while adding additional tax revenues (lest eyes turn back towards them).

    S.744 creates up to 57 million new citizens over the next 20 years.

    The problem is, it will come at the expense of, we, the people.

    – it’s always about the money – our money – they are not our friends

    Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, Jeb Bush, the Koch brothers, CAIR, Fox News, Scott Walker, George W. Bush, Rand Paul, Reince Priebus, + the 14 Republican Amnesty Pukes who were paid off http://bit.ly/17U4zCM

    Along with:
    American Action Network.
    Americans for a Conservative Direction, led by former Gov. Haley Barbour
    Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the Koch brothers’ political group
    Faith and Freedom Coalition
    U.S. Chamber of Commerce

    In an attempt to win Hispanic votes , the Top 1% is supporting Marco Rubio,
    for 2016, while heavily promoting S.744, the Senate’s Immigration Reform Bill.
    Not to mention, their gaining an almost unlimited supply of cheap labor,
    while adding additional tax revenues (lest eyes turn back towards them).

    S.744 creates up to 57 million new citizens over the next 20 years.

    The problem is, it will come at the expense of, we, the people.

    SOME OF WHAT THEY FORGOT TO TELL YOU: http://forumsforjustice.com/forums/showpost.php?p=4038&postcount=1

  2. OldLb

    Look. Migrants are an economic benefit to the UK. We keep being told that by the likes of you.

    So if they are an economic benefit, they pay more tax than the government spends on them.

    So how much tax do they pay? 12K a year. So they are all on a salary of 40K or more. Even those working in Starbucks.

    Now, if you’re earning 40K, then you aren’t in social housing unless you are Bob Crow.

    Now, why’s there an issue? Unless of course, there are lots of migrants who are not an economic benefit. …

  3. blarg1987

    Are your figures based on the whole UK population rather then the resources migrants actually use?

  4. OldLb

    A reasonably valid response. However, don’t forget they are accruing rights to a pension too. On that 12K I’ve excluded it.

    So what’s your figure?

    You need to include

    1. NHS. 2K a year cost. [Quite why its being offered at 400 a year to visitors leads to the question, why can’t the brits pay that?}

    2. The common goods – roads railways, police, defence.

    3. Schooling at 6K a child.

    4. Any subsidises the get – council housing etc.

    5. Pensions. Or is you plan to rob them?

    So basic question. If a migrant costs more, why allow them here?

    Remember 40K a year is break even, per migrant.

    That’s without taking the knock on effects into account. Such as competing against the low skilled. Driving up rents and house prices. Occupying social housing. …

  5. blarg1987

    Think this is where you need clarification, there are two types of immigration:

    Temorary migration – people comming in to doa job for a few years then leaving.

    Permanant migration – people comming here to live.

    So you would have to work out what percentage is the former and the other the later,bear in mind the former does not use as many resources such as schooling etc, then these figures can be reduced.

    From that you can then recalculate to get a more accurate number.

  6. OldLb

    Average is good. The reason is that it represents a good cross section.

    Lets take your temporary example. You’re trying to claim that temporary workers cost less, yet for some reason you don’t provide any numbers.

    Stump up some numbers

    Let me give you one small illustration why its bonkers.

    If a temp worker comes in, they build up rights to pensions. However, they then leave and pay no tax in the UK, but still get the pension.

    Similarly, if they bring children, its schooling, its health care, is a share of the common resources, and its a share of the pensions.

    Now for the 12K a year threshold, I’ve excluded the biggest problem. That’s the pensions. That’s rising at 734 bn a year according to government figures (still kept off the books). Given that’s only ever going to be paid by tax payers, (30 million), its another 25K a year that you need in taxes to just stay in the same place.

    Notice – numbers given. Numbers you can check. Why don’t you post numbers?

  7. blarg1987

    I admit I do not have the source data at hand but lets look at your example:

    We do not know how many come here with children, so we could reasonably say it is in a minority of cases (that is 6K knocked off), NHS usage also very low (Knock off say at least 1500). You usually find they do not rent privately and do not claim social housing allowance so we can knock that off, how can you say temporarr workers pay no tax n the UK most are on PAYE, so pay national insurence and income tax, unless they earn under the threashold.

  8. OldLb

    http://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Employer=Starbucks_Corporation/Hourly_Rate/Job/Barista

    How much does starbucks pay?

    12,684 pounds a year. That’s the sort of wage lots of migrants are paid.

    Now, http://www.listentotaxman.com/index.php and you get

    Empoyer NI £688.34

    Employee NI 592.32

    Income tax 648.80

    Total 1,929.46

    Err, the NHS costs more. Plus, they are now occupying a job that could quite easily be done by someone on welfare. So on top you have to add on that cost too, plus the common goods, plus the pensions, …

    Wake up. Lots of migration is bad, just as some of the migration is good.

    Getting migrants in to work in Starbucks is bad. Get over it.

  9. OldLb

    So why are you ignoring the pensions?

    Why are you ignoring, defence, police, roads.

    So why don’t we charge migrants for schooling? 6K a pop.

    Why not insist they have private insurance?

  10. OldLb

    There’s another angle to your arguments.

    Namely, if you don’t get the service, you shouldn’t pay for it. Good apparently for migrants.

    So a migrant with no kids, doesn’t have to pay for other people’s kids to be educated.

    So what about Brits with no kids. Should they be let of the tax and just parents taxed for schools?

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