Westminster Hour tonight – where we discussed Margaret Hodge’s thesis that ‘indigenous’ families should get housing priority over newly arrived people.
I think Margaret’s language is ill-advised – as it is about fairness and transparency in the allocation of housing and not about race. But I wrote a chapter in the book Britain after Blair on this very issue, as in Haringey – where we have a desperate housing need and high immigration – these issues walk into my surgery week after week. What is actually the case is there is a clash – but it’s not racial – anyway not here in Haringey.
It’s a clash between the ‘already here’s’ – and they are of every race and culture – versus the ‘newcomers’. And the system of points for housing that gives priority to number of children, illness, etc often results in what either is or looks like queue jumping. That does cause resentment. What we need is a system that is both fair and transparent. It’s difficult to balance the rights of those who have already been waiting with those newly in need, but it’s a balance we have to strike – and in an open, transparent way so that people can have confidence in the system.
(For the wider contrext, see my speech at the book’s launch).