Paper jumped gun over immigration: MP
WELWYN Hatfield MP and housing minister Grant Shapps has accused a national newspaper of jumping the gun, after it said foreigners were set to be sent to the back of the queue for social housing.
The article, published by the Daily Express, stated town halls would be given more freedom to put British families ahead of immigrants in the queue for council houses, under new Government proposals to be announced in the autumn.
The move, it said, would be part of a drive to ease the “growing resentment” among many white working class voters that newcomers were seen to receive preferential treatment.
However, the Government yesterday (Tuesday) dismissed the story.
A source said comments made by Mr Shapps on social housing fraud and the issue of illegal sub-letting, had been interpreted as comments that councils would be given the right to put local people ahead of immigrants on social housing priority lists.
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Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Department of Communities and Local Government said: “No final decisions have been taken.
“This is part of an ongoing important debate about social housing tenure.”
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Mr Shapps himself told the Welwyn Hatfield Times that the story was a case of the “Express jumping the gun, really”.
The Welwyn Hatfield Times approached Welwyn Hatfield Council and asked for a breakdown of the number of immigrants currently in social housing in the borough.
But a spokesman said he could provide neither an actual figure nor an estimate.
He added: “The Home Office says only those with legitimate, indefinite leave to reside in this country are entitled to apply for and be offered a council home.”
At the time of going to press, the Welwyn Hatfield Times had been unable to get any further comment from the Express.