6 November 2012

Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what recent estimate he has made of the effect of immigration on new social housing lets in London; (2) what estimate he has made of the effect of immigration on social housing waiting lists in London over the last 10 years.

Mark Prisk (Hertford and Stortford, Conservative): Under this Government, we have published a number of research reports on immigration that were commissioned by the last Administration but never published. They were placed in the Library further to the written ministerial statements of 1 March 2011, Hansard, column 19WS and 10 October 2011, Hansard, column 1WS.

A comprehensive answer on the limited eligibility of social housing for foreign nationals was outlined in the answer of 17 May 2012, Hansard, column 247W.

We do not collect information centrally on the nationality of households on housing waiting lists. Information on the new lettings of social housing by nationality of the tenant is published at:


The figures show that, across England, almost one in 10 of those new to social tenancy are not UK nationals. The ‘CORE’ data source is not comprehensive enough to provide a figure for London, but my Department is taking steps to address the under-reporting by some local authorities in London.

Notwithstanding, as outlined in the answer of 17 May 2012, based on data from the English Housing Survey data for 2009-10, it is roughly estimated that around a fifth of households in social housing in London are not British or Irish.

Such estimates provide a strong argument for the coalition Government’s reforms to give councils greater powers and flexibilities over the allocation of social housing, so greater weight can be given both to those with genuinely local connections and to current and former members of the armed forces.

Through the Localism Act, we have given back to councils the freedom to manage their own waiting lists. They are now able to decide who should qualify for social housing in their area, and to develop solutions which make best use of finite social housing stock.

Current and former members of our armed forces are one group who have previously lost out in the social housing system, because moving from base to base and living abroad leaves them without strong local connections. We have amended the law such that former personnel with urgent housing needs are always given high priority on waiting lists, and that personnel who move from base to base do not lose their qualification rights. New statutory guidance to councils sets out how their allocation schemes can give priority to current or ex-service personnel, including through the use of local preference criteria and local lettings policies.

Some councils are not using these new local flexibilities, and they should be held to account and challenged to justify their actions.