By Salma Yaqoob
Gordon Brown’s pledge to provide “local homes for local people” is based on a myth. And it is the same myth spread by the BNP for years. The BNP claim that “local people” are losing out to immigrants and asylum seekers. This is not true.
The Prime Minister is trying to win back voters from the BNP by telling them that their prejudices are justified. Every time this has been tried it only strengthens their arguments and gives them credibility. We have to challenge their lies with facts, and not back down in the face of racism.
Research has now shown that 90% of people in social housing were born in Britain. New arrivals represented less than 3% of the total. The big majority of new arrivals to the country end up in expensive and poor quality private rented accommodation. They are not the cause of the housing shortage.
The real source of the problem is the desperate shortage of affordable homes. Over four and a half million people are in need of social housing in the UK, including 35,000 in Birmingham alone. Gordon Brown’s new policy will not give homes to the millions who are waiting, and will only cause further resentment and division.
When the Tories were last in power they destroyed the ability of councils to build new homes. The best homes were sold off under the Right to Buy and were not replaced. When Labour was elected it had the chance to reverse this and failed to do so. It stopped local councils from borrowing the money needed to provide affordable homes, and it starved them of cash for repairs and improvements as part of their policy of selling off council estates.
This housing crisis has not been caused by immigration. It has been caused by Tory and Labour politicians who have dismally failed to invest in affordable housing over decades.
Gordon Brown has now announced a new house-building programme. But it is too little and too late. His plans include proposals for an extra 3,000 council houses. With only 375 council homes built in England last year, and millions of people queuing for them, it is a drop in the ocean. We need an urgent programme of building on a massive scale, something that the government has failed to deliver.
Many people are angry about the failure of both Tory and Labour governments to solve the housing crisis. Many more people despair at ever finding a home they can afford. The BNP is exploiting this anger and despair.
The housing crisis will not be solved by blaming immigrants. It will only be solved if our politicians invest in producing the homes that we need.”
‘Queue jumping immigrants’ are a myth, says study – The Independent