A central plank of the BNP’s recent electoral success has been their claim that immigrants to Britain get a better deal on social housing than British citizens do. Claims of asylum seekers jumping the housing queue and getting special treatment from housing officials have served to stoke up resentment and hatred in communities where immigrants have settled, exactly as the BNP intended. Fear and hatred are their stock-in-trade. Here’s a quote from their website by way of illustration. If you feel the need to read it in situ, Google is your friend.
It is equally important that the burden of foreign scroungers be dealt with vigorously. Britain has become a land where foreigners come first and decent, hard-working Britons are exploited. Immigrants come here and are immediately given council homes while Britons are pushed further and further back in the queue.
There’s a teeny problem with their rhetoric, though.
It isn’t true.
A study by the Equality and Human Rights Commission has demonstrated that there is no evidence that immigrants are able to jump the housing queue.
The research shows that within UK-born and Foreign-Born communities the proportion of people living in social housing is similar at around one in six people. It also reveals that many more recent migrants, those who have arrived in the past five years, have bought their own homes (17 per cent) than live in social housing (11 per cent).
Most new migrants to the UK over the last five years, particularly from the newer European Union member states such as Poland, have been ineligible to claim entitlement to social housing as they do not meet the criteria set by national legislation. Only new migrants who are a European Economic Area worker, have been given ‘settled’ or ‘refugee’ status by the Home Office, or have leave to remain in the UK, are eligible for social housing.
Despite the evidence, the public has a different perception of who gets priority for social housing. 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.
Of course, a little thing like ‘truth’ won’t put the BNP off their stride.