Housing sector raises serious concerns regarding UK Immigration Bill

UK_border_SignSenior figures from across the housing sector have united in opposition to proposals in the UK Immigration Bill which they fear risk “significant harm” to “deeply vulnerable people”.

The Scottish Association of Landlords, Shelter Scotland, Homeless Action Scotland and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations have raised serious concerns about the bill’s worrying implications for people whose lives are already fraught with insecurity.

The opposition came in a statement organised by the Scottish Refugee Council in advance of yesterday’s Scottish Parliament debate on the bill, which occurred at the same time that it was debated in the House of Lords.

The statement also argued that the Immigration Bill would place a “deeply inappropriate burden” on landlords which could lead to “unconscious racial discrimination” in housing provision.

Graham O’Neill, policy officer at Scottish Refugee Council, said: “There are so many serious problems with this bill, both in terms of the content of the bill itself, which is so damaging, and in the way that it impacts on areas, such as housing, that are devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

“One of our main concerns is that the bill will create an intentionally and needlessly complex system of support for families and children who are refused asylum in the UK. People in this position already face the nightmare of desperate poverty and legal limbo as they are often unable to return to their home countries, despite being refused refugee protection in the UK. The bill’s provisions will make further holes in an already ragged safety net and we are very worried that more families will fall through this net and into abject destitution and potential exploitation.

“The ‘right to rent’ provision that requires private landlords to check tenants’ immigration status is both deeply inappropriate and an invitation to discrimination.

“We, along with our colleagues in the housing sector in Scotland, urge the Scottish Parliament to call for a halt to this bill, at the very least in terms of the bill’s application in Scotland.”

Speaking after the debate, SNP MSP Christian Allard said: “This significant intervention by highly regarded figures across the housing sector shows the strength of opposition in Scotland to the Tory Immigration Bill. I am deeply concerned about the effects of this bill and disturbed that the Tory government are pressing forward with it, and ignoring the views of those affected, stakeholders, and that of the Scottish Parliament.

“Housing is a devolved issue – yet this is just one part of the bill which will impact on devolved areas without the consent of the Scottish Government or the Scottish Parliament. The Tories expect landlords to do the work of the Border Agency despite landlords and housing campaigners telling them that the consequences of doing so could be disastrous.

“The UK government should rethink these flawed and divisive proposals.”

Read the full statement signed by:

  • John Wilkes, Scottish Refugee Council
  • John Blackwood, Chief Executive, Scottish Association of Landlords
  • Alison Phipps, Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies, University of Glasgow
  • Graeme Brown, Director, Shelter Scotland
  • John Wilkes, Chief Executive, Scottish Refugee Council
  • Mary Taylor, Chief Executive, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
  • Sarah Craig, Senior Lecturer in Public Law, University of Glasgow
  • Robert Aldridge, Chief Executive, Homeless Action Scotland
  • Dr Richard W Whitecross, Lecturer in Law, Edinburgh Napier University
  • Robina Qureshi, Positive Action in Housing
  • Kirsty Thomson, Legal Services Agency
  • Share icon
    Share this article: