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One in 10 council houses let to a foreigner last year



Proportion of new council houses taken up by foreign tenants jumped in 2013/14, compared with 2010 

The figures mean that occupation of council houses by foreigners in England is now at its highest level since at least 2006/7

The figures mean that occupation of council houses by foreigners in England is now at its highest level since at least 2006/7 Photo: Kevin Britland / Alamy
Christopher Hope

By  Christopher Hope, Senior Political Correspondent

Nearly one in 10 council houses was let to foreigners last year, according to official figures.

The proportion of council houses let to Britons has now fallen from 94 per cent in the final year of the last Labour Government to just 91 per cent in 2013/14

The proportion let to foreigners in 2013/14 was at its highest level since at least 2006/7.

The figures also show that the proportion of homes being let to Eastern Europeans had doubled since the Coalition was formed in 2010 to four per cent.

The department said: “A factor in this could be that since 2008/9, the list of A8 countries has expanded to include Bulgaria and Romania.”

The way subsidised homes have been going to foreign citizens and not to families with long-standing local connections has become politically sensitive as immigration hits record levels.

Frank Field MP and Sir Nicholas Soames MP, co-chairmen of the Cross-Party Group on Balanced Migration, said: “The proportion of social housing going to non-British nationals continues to increase.

“This nationwide figure of one in ten disguises local variations where the impact has been much higher. A stronger priority for social housing should be given to long-standing local residents.”

A Local Government Association spokesman said: “It is in everyone’s interest to remove unnecessary barriers which prevent homes being made available to those people who desperately need them.

“Councils are keen to play their part in this and could go further and faster to support the development of badly needed new homes if Government gave councils greater financial flexibility.”

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said that the figures would fall next year after new measures introduced by the Government.

He said: “These figures do not take account of the new guidance we’ve put in place to ensure councils are completely clear about who they have given social homes to, so communities can be confident they are not losing out.

“For years families suffered the blatant unfairness of watching as people with no job or connection to the local area were given council homes. Under this Government new rules make crystal clear that local people and members of the Armed Forces are at the front of the queue for council homes in their area.

“As a result, I expect next year’s figures to change as councils put these rules into practice.”

David Hanson, Labour's shadow immigration minister, said: “The last Labour Government introduced new rules so councils can take into account the amount of time someone has lived in an area when allocating social housing.

"These are important powers and the vast majority of councils make use of them – which is why the overwhelming proportion of social housing is allocated to British citizens.

"This has gone down since 2010 and no doubt the Government will want to look at this to ensure these rules are being properly applied. Labour has been clear that people should come to our country to contribute – and this should apply to the provision of social housing, as well as benefits. It's also important that we increase the stock of housing which is why a future labour government plans to build at least 200,000 new homes a year by 2020".

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