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British Homes for British Workers - Experts, activists unite in opposition

Seventeen housing organisations have sent an open letter to the government rejecting its idea of prioritising British families when it comes to housing lists.

The letter is signed by some of the country’s leading experts from the likes of the Chartered Institute of Housing, National Housing Federation and Local Government Association, along with vocal critics of many landlords and letting agencies such as  Shelter and Generation Rent. Charities helping the homeless have also signed. 

The letter states: “We all deserve safe housing, regardless of where we are from. Further rationing of an already scarce resource does not address the fundamental failures of the last 40 years – we have simply not built the homes the UK needs to ensure everybody has a safe and secure place to live. At the same time, we’ve seen net losses of social rented homes grow – exceeding 200,000 since 2011 - mainly due to right to buy.


“Social housing is designed to support those in the greatest need. Government data shows that 90 per cent of new social housing lettings go to UK nationals, with long waiting lists in all areas. 

“Imposing extended qualification periods before people can even get on the housing register is likely to force more people into homelessness. If the government’s main concern is to increase the availability of social lettings, it could achieve this far more effectively by building more social housing.”

Gavin Smart, chief executive at CIH, who coordinated the letter, says: “It’s hard to comment on speculative policy but we are entrenched in a housing crisis and focusing on the wrong policies will not alleviate the escalating situation.

“We’ve currently got 1.4 million people on the social housing waiting list and it’s growing by the day. Homelessness is at record levels and councils are struggling with the cost of rising temporary accommodation. We urgently need to increase the supply of social rented homes – that means building more and reducing the loss generated by policies such as right to buy.

“Further rationing of an already scarce resource does not address this. And with government data showing that 90 per cent of new lettings in social housing go to UK nationals it’s questionable whether the new approach suggested would achieve its intended aims.

“We urge the government to focus efforts on housing solutions to boost supply. We’re committed to working with them on this – building on our collective calls for a genuine long-term plan for housing.”

And Matt Downie, chief executive at homeless charity Crisis, adds: “These plans will do absolutely nothing to deliver the levels of social housing we need and only seek to pin the blame on a group of people in desperate need of support.

“The government knows full well that councils already have strict rules in place so that only UK citizens and those with settled status can access a home. It also knows that the reason why waiting lists for social housing have topped 1.2 million is because of successive governments failure to build them.

“What we need is reasonable, sensible solutions to the housing crisis that must involve a plan to deliver 90,000 social homes every year. Exclusionary tactics will not see us end homelessness for good.”

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    Typical response from the usual suspects. Does any other country think so little of its citizens that they go to the back of the queue?

    Kristjan Byfield

    That's not what happens and that's not what they're asking for. If someone has a right to live here, then they should have equal access to housing. It's that simple. No one goes to the front, we all queue. It doesn't get more British than that!

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    @ Kristjan, I agree in principle, but unfortunately, it's not that simple. There are a myriad of grey areas where the system is exploited. I cannot help but think that people come to this country to gain citizenship in a short space of time to get very cheap housing. Perhaps those entering the UK from abroad should prove they are working and be self-sufficient for a govt set number of years before getting £100k's in long-term housing benefits. Having worked for Westminster Council undertaking RTBs in the 1980s, I saw the system abused by those entering the country, finding Council accommodation, applying for RTB, then selling and making enormous profit and then going back to their country of birth. It seemed wrong to me.

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    Kristjan, must be your Viking forefathers coming through. The infrastructure in Britain belongs to the indigenous people, its taken literally thousands of years to build up. That's why a country is a country, its a sovereign place.


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