Housing waiting list ban on new immigrants

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IMMIGRANT families will be banned from going on council house waiting lists for up to five years under a crackdown to be unveiled tomorrow.

Prime Minister David Cameron is set to reveal the hard-line policy on housing and benefits in a keynote speech being delivered on immigration. The move sticks to the British government’s goal of cutting “net” migration to 100,000 people each year.

Councils can impose local residency tests for social housing, but only about half of them enforce the powers.

Cameron will announce that statutory guidance is being issued, arguing that Britain had become a “soft touch” for immigrants under Labour.

Local authorities will have to introduce minimum residency times of between two and five years for joining waiting lists – or justify why they are not.

The approach comes on the back of rising concerns over a potential influx of Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants when border controls are relaxed at the end of this year.

Independent think tank Migration Watch UK, which wants tougher controls on immigration, has estimated 250,000 could move to the UK in the space of five years.

Councils will still be able to set exceptions under measures designed to protect British nationals who move for “genuine reasons”, such as family breakdown or work.

Protection already exists for members of the Armed Forces.