No 10 Seeks To Play Down Housing Row

Downing Street today sought to play down the row over a call by industry minister Margaret Hodge to give established British families priority social housing over immigrants.

Mrs Hodge triggered a political storm at the weekend when she said that social housing policy should be rebalanced to give more weight to length of residence, citizenship, and national insurance contributions.

She said indigenous families had a “legitimate sense of entitlement” that their needs should override those of recent arrivals.

The prime minister’s official spokesman acknowledged today that there are concerns about the allocation of housing, but said that they generally relate to specific areas.

“We have to keep this in context. We recognise that there is a particular impact in particular areas and that is an issue, but overall in 2005-06 only 1% of lettings went to foreign nationals,” the spokesman said.

He said that the key to dealing with the issue is increasing the rate of housebuilding in the social sector, which has risen by 50% over the past two years.