Thursday, July 26, 2007

An Excellent BBC Programme

Lst week's File On Four, on council housing, was an absolute cracker. Recommended.

Tragically the 'listen again' webcast has been overwritten by this week's edition. But there is a transcript (pdf) with all the ghastly details.

What the programme basically tells us is that Margaret Hodge's allegations on housing were correct. Recently arrived economic migrants and those granted asylum can go straight to the top of the queue - because it's needs-based rather than entitlement-based.

Ms Hodge asked whether that was fair, for asking which question she was accused of using the language of the BNP.


So is Margaret Hodge right when she says that economic migrants with urgent needs, will usually be housed in place of local families who’ve just been waiting a long
time? The Borough’s Director of Housing, David Woods says Yes, but…

WOODS: That statement needs to be qualified. First of coming from abroad first of all you have to have the right to live in the UK, secondly you have to have been here for at least a year and in some cases have worked here for a year.

NORTHAM: And if a migrant family has been in the borough for at least a year, would Margaret Hodges’ case then be right that they would usually get priority if they had multiple housing need ?

WOODS: Yes they would, but they wouldn’t get priority over other local people who’ve got the same priority need and who’ve been here longer.

NORTHAM: So when she says that a recently arrived migrant family with multiple housing needs will usually get priority over a family who may have lived in the borough for three generations and are stuck at home with the grandparents, she’s right?

WOODS: She’s right provided she means by recently arrived, people who’ve been here for the qualifying period.

NORTHAM: Do you want to rethink that policy as Margaret Hodge clearly thinks you should?

WOODS: I think it’s very difficult to move away from a position where we allocate housing on the basis of need.
So there's no doubt that if you've arrived in Barking with damn-all from Kurdistan, got asylum then brought over wifie and five kids, you're in and the locals are out.


Not all councils are like Barking and Dagenham. One of Hodge's points, echoed by Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone , was that it isn't just the evil racist whites (who could probably be ignored) moaning about unfairness. In Newham borough, not exactly a white ghetto or BNP stronghold, the leader Sir Robin Wales has an innovative strategy, bending the law to its limits by putting as many applicants as possible into the 'priority' category, then allocating by time on the list.

The elected Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, regards the needs-based allocation system with nothing short of disdain.

WALES: Essentially what we’ve got at the moment is a race to the bottom, What we do is we allocate properties on the basis of how you present yourself to a local council, so you walk in and say I’m homeless you get a greater priority then you walk in and say I’ve managed to do something for myself but I’m still looking for a council property. And so the whole way we allocate is unfair, it doesn’t necessarily enable us to support aspiration.

NORTHAM: Are you telling me that you don’t think there are people who are genuinely homeless and need urgent housing?

WALES: Well what do you mean by that, do you mean there…

NORTHAM: I mean they haven’t got anywhere to live?

WALES: Yeah and then we’d house them, we’ve got private sector accommodation we’d get them in. We’ve got almost, we’ve got…

NORTHAM: But they wouldn’t have access to council housing?

WALES: Ah they would, they’d have access to council housing on exactly the same basis as everybody else…

NORTHAM: They’d have to wait?

WALES: They’d have to wait the same as everybody else, but what they would do is get into the private sector. That seems to me right and we should support that.

NORTHAM: Even an elected Mayor can’t instruct his housing department to break the law. But the Council has devised a way of trying to minimise the impact of the law giving preference to needs. It crams as many applicants as it can into the priority band, well over two-thirds of its 28,000 strong waiting list, and then treats them strictly in order of waiting-time.

WALES: We’ve got 19,000 in priority and we try and put as many people in there as possible so that we can have a fair system…

NORTHAM: A fair system meaning?

WALES: The fair system would be the longer you wait the higher up the list you are. Now I think people understand that, if you say look we’ve all got to wait it’s a queue, you wait in the queue and when your turn comes you have a chance that’s the right way to do it at least partially.

NORTHAM: And the way that you’re doing it is to put as many people as possible into the priority band?

WALES: Yes, yes absolutely.

NORTHAM: And you’re allowed to do that within the law are you?

WALES: We operate absolutely within the law but we try and push it the furthest we can because we believe that everybody should have the same fair access.

NORTHAM: So you say that you’re pushing the law as far as possible does the law need to be changed?

WALES: Absolutely, the law should be changed to allow us to do the allocations policy we want, we think we should have local discretion but even if the Government doesn’t want to do that we think something round queuing is fair. People understand queues. The British people are essentially fair minded people and if you say to them it’s a queue you’ve got to wait your turn they understand that.

The needs-based system rewarded not only the unfortunate, but the feckless and criminal. It's (along with a needs-based benefits system) created the underclass.

When applied in a world of open borders, it's creating an 'otherclass'.

Frank Field the MP for Birkenhead, has become a trenchant critic of the current housing law. He argues that the system of allocation according to need serves to make losers out of the very people who should win.

FIELD: I object to the way council houses are allocated. The vast majority of my constituents in Birkenhead do and my guess is in the country as a whole in that they feel the form of allocation is unfair, people believe that it’s wrong as a primary aim to give that scarce resource on the basis of need rather than on the basis that I’ve actually earned my right to that. That society goes round because people work, because people play the game, because people are decent citizens and that should be rewarded rather than ‘ah look I’m actually homeless or I’ve managed to persuade people that I am deemed to be homeless therefore I should shoot to the top of the list’.

NORTHAM: So your view is that the law which currently places emphasis, great emphasis on the priority of people in need, your saying that law is simply wrong?

FIELD: I’m saying the law is wrong, I’m saying that we in Parliament should actually change that law, that we should reward citizenship we should give it a greater weight than we should award being deemed homeless.

NORTHAM: Are you recreating the 19th century distinction between the deserving and the undeserving poor here?

FIELD: Well we’ve got it and that is that the decent citizens are deemed undeserving and I think that’s wrong.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Well we’ve got it and that is that the decent citizens are deemed undeserving and I think that’s wrong."

Spot on again Frank. He talks a lot of sense, and more and more often.

Anyway, the latest YouGov pol shows Labour on 40% and the Tories on 32%. The Brits get the government they deserve. I don't deserve it. I deserve something far better. Maybe its time to move somewhere where I can get a better government.

Anonymous said...

Cruddarse was being economical with the truth on CIF then, there's a suprise and no mistake


http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/jon_cruddas/2007/05/making_barking_mad.html

Anonymous said...

The 'most in need' used to be a small category. It consisted of people burnt out or flooded and women fleeing domestic violence.

The actual 'homeless' numbers were very tiny but since the mid 90's hundreds of thousands people, if not millions, have moved to the UK and become eligible for public housing.

The GLA published a report a few years ago which said that of the 17,000 odd new tenancies allocated in London for that year, nearly half went the 'homeless'.

In London alone I would estimate that over the last ten years or so 50/60 thousand tenancies have been allocated to people who have not been in the country very long. I would say that upwards of 300 thousand people in total have been allocated public housing.

In 1996 Barking and Dagenham's 'homeless' consisted of ten families. In 2006 it was 565.

Anonymous said...

With Hodge there is an element of coercion. "Give us the money to build more housing so we can house the Brits and the immigrants".

The idea that perhaps we could just not have the immigrants and just house our own is of course not up for debate.

Anonymous said...

If palestine can segregate its own refugees in camps, why can't we do that? Sanctuary from persecution doesn't have to mean sanctuary from working for ones keep. We have a number of uninhabited islands which would suffice, and a large "refugee" work force to build the shelters. Especially as so many of them are young males physically fit enough to shift for themselves. Assylum is supposed to grant access to a place of safety, not a chunk of other peoples money.
Monty

Steve said...

Damn. They always put the good programmes on when I'm out of the country.

Anonymous 1 - it makes no difference whether Labour or the Tories are in power. This system of allocation has been going on since at least the 1970s.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, so immigrants get a council house, built and paid for by previous generations of Brits. The immigrants themselves have not contributed anything to the creation of that house, and are not best placed to ever do so, being as they rarely speak the language. If they do speak the language, it means they are not displaced persons, but middle-class citizens of third world countries that had the smarts to click on to the fact that moving to the UK was both possible and a cushy number. So either they don't deserve to be here or we can't afford to keep them.

Oh yes, that seems really fair. And of course it is really sustainable. We can go along like this for the foreseeable future can't we? When are the fools in power going to grasp the inevitable nettle and bring this to an end? You have to come tot he conclusion they WANT the country to come apart at the seams.

Foxy Brown said...

Steve,

Speaking of the situation in London, the Conservative controlled councils up until quite recently operated a more equitable allocation system. However, now councils like Kensington and Chelsea have gone the way of the morally-spineless militant left-wing boroughs like Brent, Harringey and Lambeth.

A few weeks ago the London listings magazine Timeout devoted an issue to the demise of old London entitled 'The Death of Cockney London.' This wonderful, rich culture was not helped by the housing allocation system. The old-style Londoners were self-sufficient and industrious; they eshewed pity and poor relief in the form of handouts, they were in short the deserving poor. I beg anyone of you to go down the Old Kent Rd, it consists of money transfer shops, dodgy halal butchers and fried chicken outlets.

Certainly the native Londoners of the east end, usurped by incomers from all corners of the globe thanks to the guilt-tripping middle class white liberals, escaped to places like Barking and Dagenham only for these policies to be repeated again.

Recovering Liberal said...

It's too late for the fools in power to change course now even if they wanted to. They have painted themselves into a corner. As Ken Livingstone pointed out in the aftermath of Hodge's original comments, and please correct me if I am wrong, any change to the housing rules that discriminated in favour of the indegenous population would be unlawful on the grounds of indirect discrimination. That is, new immigrants are, in comparison to the UK average, more likely to be non-White, so it is unlawful to discriminate against them as a group.

Newham would, I guess, argue that, as it is already more diverse than the average cohort of immigrants, it CAN discriminate in favour of its "long term" residents.

dave fordwych said...

The only reason that this topic is now allowed to be discussed on the BBC,is because many of the new immigrants are white Eastern Europeans and the "locals" missing out are often black or Asian.

verity said...

Dave Fordwych makes a very telling point - and well spotted.

Thank God I got out of that corrupt stench of Labour councils and millions of illegal squatters on our shores who are given priority over our indigenes whose parents laboured and paid to form today's Britain.

My guess is that not one of the 3.5m of us who fled this sceptic isle would return on a bet.

Medical waiting lists jammed by illegal immigrants and their offspring. Schools jammed with teachers who hate England and want to teach multicultural studies. Never mind the battle of Trafalfar, who knows the different forms of basket weaving across Africa. Our own children are being robbed of their heritage and the educational system their forebears built up over generations. The one-worlders are the boss now.

Time to flee and let the one worlders live on the earnings of the illiterate muslim immigrants' taxes.

I will never forgive them for what they have done to my heritage, which was for all our descendants, and I want them to burn in hell.

Anonymous said...

"I will never forgive them for what they have done to my heritage, which was for all our descendants, and I want them to burn in hell."
Burning is too good for the filthy cunts, let them slowly toast, - for- days and days.

Anonymous said...

"I will never forgive them for what they have done to my heritage, which was for all our descendants, and I want them to burn in hell."

Absolutely right, verity

The cesspit paradise of diversity will sort of creak along as long the economy holds up, but when it falters seriously then all bets are off.

I'd like to see a military coup, and hundreds of left liberal traitors put up against a wall and shot.

I'd love to be in one of the firing parties.

Victor Meldrew said...

Verity is spot on as usual. I wouldn't come back to Blighted now.

hypocricy-spotter said...

I am amused by the irony of verity's comments! He/she seems to happy slag off immigrants to the UK while themselves being an immigrant to another country!

I would take anti-immigrant ranters a bit more seriously if they were consistent and opposed Brits emigrating!

Angela said...

"Sanctuary from persecution doesn't have to mean sanctuary from working for ones keep."

This is true. And many asylum seekers WANT to work but they are not allowed to by our law. Some have professional qualifications, and were working before being forced to flee persecution, war, torture etc.

Some of you don't want to live in/ return to England because we have some annoying laws which make life inconvenient, annoying, disadvantageous sometimes to some who seem deserving. AAnd yet you blame people for
a) fleeing horrific situations. (asylum seekers)
or even worse
b) economic migration so their children don't have to starve anymore/ can get medical treatment.

I agree that there is a problem with "rewarding" in a sense those who manage to hit rock bottom, and I think length of wait should have weight as well, but please let's have some compassion, people!