Cut UK immigration to tackle housing crisis, says MigrationWatch chief

British peer Lord Andrew Green - head of anti-immigration think tank MigrationWatch UK - has called for ministers to limit immigration to the UK, in order to reduce pressure on the housing market. Lord Green was made a life peer by the last Government most likely in a cynical attempt to gain votes from anti-immigration voters in the recent General Election.

According to an analysis released by the think tank on April 29th, in the last 5 years immigrants were the head of 78% of new households. According to Green this means that: "a major reduction in immigration is essential to reduce the acute pressure on housing which we are now facing."

Figures for immigrant households may not be accurate

However, the data used in the study does not necessarily support Lord Green's conclusions. The study used figures released by the ONS's Quarterly Labour Force Survey, which samples up to – but often significantly less than - 60,000 households per quarter.

One data set used in the study included less than 0.2% of UK households. This statistic was then used to make predictions about the country as a whole. Obviously reaching a conclusion on what is happening to the whole of the UK on what is happening to 0.2% of UK households may be highly misleading.

Housing crisis not caused by immigration, say experts

Even if we ignored such a glaring problem with the data, it is wrong to conclude that immigration is the cause of rising rents and house prices.

Nick Dunning, commercial director of property firm Countrywide told the Guardian last year that rent increases were being driven by supply not keeping pace with demand; which has increased due to the economic recovery:

"Competition among tenants for properties has intensified, which has resulted in rental growth running at twice the level of 2012. The largest increases in demand have been in those towns and cities where the most new jobs have been created as the recovery spreads outwards from London."

More housing needed, not less immigration

A May 14th report by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) echoes Dunning's concerns, saying that a 'decline in supply' is causing house prices to rise.

"It is absolutely critical that the new government focuses on measures to boost the flow of new build...we need a coherent and coordinated house building strategy across all tenures." said Jeremy Blackburn, RICS head of policy.

The economic means to solve the housing shortage - by building new homes - is there, thanks in part to skilled migrants on Tier 2 visas; as reported previously on Undermining the economy by restricting immigration further would be a step in the wrong direction.

Sanwar Ali, Editor of News has the following to say:

Yet again there are concerns about the accuracy of a Migration Watch report. Immigrants are again being used as a scapegoat. The National Housing Federation has said that fewer houses are being built than at any point since the Second World War. Of course Migration Watch does not mention this in their report as one of the main reasons as to why there is a shortage of housing. The Migration Watch report is clearly a biased and misleading report.

This sort of anti-immigration propaganda creates an atmosphere where unacceptable behaviour by the Home Office and a quango (quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation) sponsored by the Home Office is more likely. People should be able to provide information to a quango without worrying that their immigration status may be affected. Instead what is happening is that highly misleading information is being provided by the quango to the Home Office. This misleading information is then used by the Home Office when considering a visa application. This is unfair and leads to serious injustices occurring. We suggest that those of you based in the UK complain to your local MP about this and demand that this behaviour stops immediately.