Landlord checks on immigrants at risk of racism
According to Andy Burnham, the home shadow secretary, the Labour government’s plans to make it mandatory for a landlord to undertake checks on their tenant’s immigration status are at risk of causing widespread racism and discrimination. The plans to provisionally be included in the Immigration Bill 2015 – would see the renting out of accommodation to illegal immigrants become a criminal offence. Burnham said the plans risk making Britain’s housing market a “hostile environment for tenants with foreign-sounding names”. Writing in the Independent on Sunday, Burnham described the bill as “…disproportionate, divisive, deceitful”.
The plans include the ‘Right to Rent’ scheme which was trialled in the West Midlands in 2014 and required all participating landlords to confirm the immigration status of all of their prospective tenants. This confirmation involved making demands to see prospective tenant’s passports and/or visas. In a post-scheme report issued by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, in excess of 40% of the participating landlords who engaged with the pilot scheme said that it had made them significantly less likely to now rent out a property to someone who was not in possession of a British passport. More than 25% of the same sample of landlords said that they were now also reluctant to engage with people that had foreign names or accents. Burnham said the Bill “seeks to propagate immigration myths rather than slay them”. He said: “In practice, it could end up making Britain a more hostile place for anyone with a foreign-sounding name.” He added. “The new document checks could become the modern equivalent of the ‘no dogs, no blacks, no Irish’ signs and, by being more insidious, such casual discrimination will be far harder to challenge.”
We are of the opinion that the new checks do have their place, in certain circumstances. On the whole, levels of illegal immigration from both in and outside or Europe have slowly been on the rise and measures need to be taken to prohibit those here illegally from accessing the same services as those that aren’t. However, of late the UK has not been the most immigration friendly place, even to those who come/would like to come here to benefit our economy enormously. Recent examples of this are evident in the raising of the minimum investment threshold in the Tier 1 (Investor) route from £1 to £2 million and the potential upcoming skills charges and raising of minimum salary thresholds applicable to the Tier 2 routes. We understand that Cameron has to be seen to be making real changes to UK migration levels after all his broken promises but we do think that the route currently being taken by the Labour government is not the right one. A revision of current tactics is in dire need.
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