Monday, 10 August 2009

Challenging Prejudice with Fact

The vast majority of people who live in social housing in Britain were born in Britain, according to a research study published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission on 7 July.

The study found that less than two per cent of all social housing residents are people who have moved to Britain in the last five years and that nine out of 10 people who live in social housing were born in Britain. The independent research, which was undertaken for the Commission by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), found that social housing policies are targeting those in most need including the homeless, the elderly and families with children.

It also found no evidence to support the perception that new migrants are getting priority over British-born residents. Nor was there any evidence of abuse of the system, including 'queue jumping' or providing false information. Despite the evidence, the public has a different perception of who gets priority for social housing - often exacerbated by wild and inflammatory campaigning on the issue by the racist British National Party and others.

Focus group discussions held as part of the project exposed widely-held fears that the allocation process puts white British families at a disadvantage and that migrants are 'cheating the system'. This myth is often at the core of discriminatory behaviour and contributes to tension and violence in many areas.

Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Commission, said: 'We have to recognise that people's perceptions are powerful, so it's vital that social housing providers and policy makers work to foster understanding about what is really happening on the ground. Much of the public concern about the impact of migration on social housing has, at its heart, the failure of social housing supply to meet the demands of the population. The poorer the area, the longer the waiting lists, therefore the greater the tension. Government and social housing providers need to work with the communities they serve to address these issues.'

For a full copy of the report go to:


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