» Monday, May 21, 2007

Council Housing

Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with Margaret Hodge’s comments that priority should be given to British residents when it came to council housing, the PMOS replied that first and foremost the Government had recognised that there was an issue here. That was why they had set up various mechanisms including the Migration Impact Forum, which would be headed by Phil Woolas and Liam Byrne, to provide information on the impact of migration on the wider community. The key to this was increasing the rate of house building in the social sector, and this was up by 50% in the last couple of years. There was also the issue of social housing in general, and Professor John Hills had been looking at this and we would consider what he had to say over the coming months. However this had to be kept in context, we recognised that this had particular impact in particular areas, but overall in 2005-06 only about 1% of lettings (some 1,100 or so) went to foreign nationals. So in particular areas there was an impact, which we recognised, and this was why we were bringing this review to bring it all together, but we should not forget the overall context.

Asked if the Prime Minister regretted not placing greater emphasis on building more social housing earlier, the PMOS replied that we had increased it by 50% in the last couple of years. Also the issue that continued to evolve, therefore the answers had to continue to evolve with it. We should also not lose sight of the benefits that migration continues to bring to this country. This was a complex picture with complex impacts in particular areas.

Asked specifically if the Prime Minister disagreed with Margaret Hodge, and whether she had breached her responsibilities on the issue, the PMOS replied that Margaret Hodge represented an area with particular problems in this concern. As a representative of that area she was perfectly entitled to do so. It was however an issue which we were grappling with, and would continue to grapple with. The two were not incompatible.

Asked if it was not Government policy, the PMOS replied that Government policy was to look at this issue in the round, and to deal with particular pressures where there were particular pressures.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Search for related news

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