Cameron to set out tougher approach on housing for immigrants
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Last Updated: Sunday, March 24, 2013, 23:44
  
London: In a bid to cut down on immigration, British Prime Minister David Cameron is set to announce a tougher approach on housing and benefits, including keeping immigrant families off council house waiting lists for five years.

Arguing that Britain became a "soft touch" for immigrants under Labour, Cameron will tomorrow announce in a keynote speech on immigration that statutory guidance is being issued.

Local authorities will have to introduce minimum residency times of between two and five years for joining waiting lists, or justify why they are not.

Concerns have been rising of an influx from Bulgaria and Romania when movement restrictions are loosened at the end of this year.

Research for the Communities and Local Government Department has suggested only around 13,000 will arrive from the two countries.

But Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said this week that he had "no confidence" in the figures, and Migration Watch UK, which wants tougher controls on immigration, has estimated that 250,000 will move to the UK over five years.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg performed a U-turn last week by abandoning the Liberal Democrats' controversial "earned citizenship" policy, which would allow illegal immigrants to stay once they have been in the country for more than 10 years.

He said such an amnesty now risked "undermining public confidence". The Prime Minister is likely to cite figures in his speech showing that nearly one in 10 new social lettings go to foreign nationals.

The proportion has risen from 6.5 per cent in 2007-08 to nine per cent in 2011-12. Sources said the move was aimed at "stopping someone from turning up and immediately gaining access to social housing".

Ministers will take steps to ensure British nationals are protected when they move for "genuine reasons", such as work or family breakdown by ensuring local authorities retain the ability to set exceptions.

Such protection is already legally in force for members of the Armed Forces. Cameron is also expected to use his keynote speech on Immigration to reiterate his commitment to reduce net immigration to below 100,000.

Immigration minister Mark Harper said he wanted to make sure Britain's rules were "amongst the toughest in the world".

He told the Sky News that the Government wanted to make sure that people did not come to Britain with an expectation that they could jump the housing queue "when they haven't been here for very long at all".

"What we want to do is have local councils set a residence test so that people with more of a connection to the local area are able to go first on a housing waiting list," he said.

PTI


First Published: Sunday, March 24, 2013, 23:43


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