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24 Mar, 2013 13:53

UK migration crackdown: ‘No social housing for newcomers’

UK migration crackdown: ‘No social housing for newcomers’

Migrants will be blocked from Britain’s social housing waiting lists until they have been in the country for up to five years, the latest move in a series of increasingly tough measures against immigrants.

UK PM David Cameron will announce in a speech on Monday that councils will have to phase in a residency test to prevent immediate access to social housing. Those applying are to spend a minimum of two to five years in the country before even being put on a waiting list, The Independent reports.

“Public fears around immigration are like fears around crime. They bear little relationship to the actual reality,” David Walker, the Bishop of Dudley, told the Observer on Sunday. Additional concerns were aired by pressure groups, which warned the move could stoke an “anti-immigration debate.”

Cameron is expected to declare that there cannot be a “culture of something for nothing” among those entering the country. One in 10 lettings went to foreign nationals in 2011-2012, and the PM is aiming for a reduction.

Sources told The Telegraph that the move is directed at “stopping someone from turning up and immediately gaining access to social housing.” Councils will receive ‘statutory guidance’ –that is, legally-weighted advice - on how to determine whether somebody would qualify based on their reasons.

This will mark the latest in a series of measures being taken against those entering Britain to work and live. Immigration has been marked as a highly topical issue in the UK since UKIP, a political party notorious for its anti-immigration policies, beat the Conservatives in the Eastleigh by-election in February.

Earlier this month, it materialized that immigrants may be forced to front a down-payment to enter the country, to prevent them from drawing on publically-funded services, such as non-emergency healthcare.

If they did, part or all of the deposit could be lost, essentially meaning that immigrants will have to pay for traditionally free NHS Services.

Deputy PM Nick Clegg recently performed a public U-turn on immigration policy. Despite previously taking the stance that immigrants could ‘earn’ citizenship by staying in the country for more than 10 years, he has changed his tack, saying that it would risk “undermining public confidence.”

Within the last few days it emerged that he was fully supportive of the deposit plan, declaring that immigrants, especially from ‘high risk’ countries, should be forced to pay sums of over 1,000 pounds (around US$1,500).

However, today’s levels of population growth are no higher than they were from the beginning of the 20th century to 1970, according to UK pressure group Migration Matters Trust.

Net migration into Britain has fallen by a third, from 247,000 migrants in June 2011 to 163,000 in 2012, according the Office for National Statistics (ONS).