PM ‘playing political volleyball’ with immigration issue, says Ilford charity chief

Rita Chadha

Rita Chadha - Credit: Archant

Plans by the Prime Minister to reduce immigrants’ access to social housing, have been described as a “storm in a teacup” by the chief executive of a migrant charity.

Rita Chadha, of the Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London, said David Cameron’s speech on Monday was playing “volleyball” with the immigration issue.

Ms Chadha said the announcement will do little other than stir up anti-immigration feelings, while changes will make no difference to the housing shortage.

“The reality is there’s not enough housing,” she said. “Politicians use immigration as a political volleyball. He wants to apply these changes to everyone coming into the country regardless of their status.”

Under proposals, immigrant families will not be allowed to apply for council houses for the first two years of their stay.

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Ms Chadha said: “Authorities already have tests in place and no one gets anything out of the system if they don’t put into it.

“Everybody’s panicking about immigration, but they don’t understand the issue.”

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Mr Cameron also said during the speech in Ipswich that a residency test would be put in place to stop such families getting immediate access to housing.

These would have to be decided by councils, based on the different housing issues they face.

“You will have to have lived in an area for between two and five years,” Ms Chadha said. “Redbridge already has tests in place.

“It’s a storm in a tea cup, but it’s scary – people will misunderstand the issue.”

One of the items mentioned in Mr Cameron’s speech that Ms Chadha is particularly concerned about is landlords having to check the immigration status of their tenants.

If they are illegal in the country, then the landlord can be fined.

Describing it as “ridiculous” she added: “Most people know nothing about immigration paperwork, and under these proposals they would be fined if they get it wrong.”

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