Ministers ignore Immigration’s Effect on Housing

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Ministers are ignoring the effect of immigration on housing shortages, says Isle of Wight MP, Andrew Turner, and he claims the result is that increased pressure for homes in London is creating waves as far as the Island.

Mr Turner, in a parliamentary question to the Deputy Prime Minister, asked what assessment the Government had made of the effect of international migration on the need for house building in the east and south of England.

Junior Minister Yvette Cooper responded by saying the main reason for a need for new housing is because of “an increase in the number of people living alone.” She added “The result is growing demand for housing, which affects the south and east of England.”

Mr Turner followed up by pointing out that migration was having a dramatic effect on housing need:

“Is she aware that even Home Office figures accept that international migration is such that it requires a new town the size of Slough every two years or a new city the size of Birmingham every 10 years to accommodate people coming to this country? Whose job is it in the Government to balance the needs of the economy … with the need to protect the environment? Which Minister is responsible?”

The Minister did not answer the questions and implied that they amounted to ‘campaigning on immigration’.

Mr Turner said later,

“Her silence amounts to a confession that nobody at Government level is taking account of the effect of immigration on the demand of housing. In an effort to support the Minister, one of her colleagues said that a major source of population growth in the south of England is ‘migration to the south-east from London’ – but the question is why there is an outflow of people from London and the big cities, which is having this wave effect of demand for housing as far away as the Isle of Wight? It is not campaigning on immigration to seek an explanation of these issues which so seriously affect first time buyers in my constituency.”

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Contact : Andrew Turner 01983 530808

Note: Full text of the questions from Hansard is below.

House Building

2. Mr. Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): What assessment he has made of the effect of international migration on the need for house building in the east and south of England. [37195] The Minister for Housing and Planning (Yvette Cooper): International migration is a factor in UK population growth, and it is important to the growth of the economy. Household growth is higher than population growth due to demographic and lifestyle changes, particularly an increase in the number of people living alone. The result is growing demand for housing, which affects the south and east of England.

Mr. Turner: I thank the hon. Lady for her reply. Is she aware that Home Office figures accept that migration is such that it requires a new town the size of Slough every two years or a new city the size of Birmingham every 10 years to accommodate people coming to this country? Whose job is it in Government to balance the needs of the economy, to which she referred, with the need to protect the environment? Which Minister is responsible?

Yvette Cooper: I can see the way in which the Tory party wants to campaign on housing policy. We look at the projections for household growth, two thirds of which is the result of more people living alone. The figure will grow from 3.4 million in 1971 to 8.5 million in 2012. It is true that the 29 per cent. of NHS doctors who were born abroad need homes to live in, as do pensioners and widows who live alone as well as the next generation of first-time buyers. In the end, that is the issue. The hon. Gentleman’s policy would mean that 70 per cent.—

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Dr. Phyllis Starkey (Milton Keynes, South-West) (Lab): Will the Minister confirm that the major sources of population growth in the south of England are migration to the south-east from London and increased longevity? In relation to the second group, what steps are being taken to make sure that new house building in the south takes account of the needs of the elderly population?

Yvette Cooper: My hon. Friend is exactly right. We need to take account of an ageing and growing population. If we do not do so, in 20 years’ time, 70 per cent. of 30-year-old couples who are first-time buyers will not be able to afford their own home. That is the consequence of sticking with existing rates of house building, which is the approach taken by the Opposition. Their leader may say all those nice things about not campaigning on immigration—

Mr. Speaker: Order. The hon. Lady defies the Chair when she keeps going on about Opposition policy. She will not do so again.

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