I’ve noticed down the years that the minute someone finds out you work for a local council, in anything vaguely related to housing the subject of asylum seekers comes up.
The most common exclamation being “I’ll bet if I was an asylum seeker I’d get a council house”. If I had a pound for everytime I’ve heard this phrase I wouldn’t bother with the lottery.
I will state for the record, loud and proud ‘ASYLIM SEEKERS ARE NOT ENTITLED TO COUNCIL HOUSING’. This article explains why.
Refugees are entitled to council housing but how can you tell the difference between a refugee and an asylum seeker? You can’t, unless you have access to their Home Office documents, because the difference is a matter of legal designation.
Any of you who complain about the complexity of landlord/tenant law, and I know I do, would be staggered to find out how complex immigration law is. Subject to fiendishly difficult case law, much of it via Strasbourg and the Hague and astonishingly confusing information from the Home office itself who often contradict themselves.
It all comes down to what is called ‘Eligibility’. In order to get on the housing waiting list or get homelessness assistance a person must first be ‘Eligible’.
These are the persons who are automatically eligible:
- British Citizens.
- Commonwealth citizens with a right of abode.
- EEA nationals who are exercising treaty rights.
The latter means working, studying, seeking work, or self-employed.
Everyone else is what is known as “Persons Subject to Immigration Control’ PSICs and PSICs are not eligible for housing unless they are in a defined band of people, refugees being one of them.
Non-EEA Foreign nationals can come to study or work but must be self-supporting, which means if they run into trouble they won’t get help from the council.
Asylum seekers can be provided with accommodation but it is usually of the very temporary hostel kind and can be anywhere in the UK and certainly will not lead to a council house unless their status changes and they get re-designated as a refugee.
Sometimes it is the case that a person can be ineligible for housing by virtue of their foreign national status but their child is an EEA national.
In such cases the parent won’t be deported because to do so would be to deprive the child of the benefit of growing up in the EEA but the parent still must be self-supporting. The only assistance they would get is via Section 17 of the Children’s Act, which usually involves being placed in a B&B miles from where they normally live and being given pocket money to live on, until the only hope they face is getting accepted by the Home Office or going back to their home country.
Leave to remain is another route but there are different kinds. Some leave to remain comes with ‘Recourse to public funds’ but there are wild differences of opinion over what public funds this refers to.
Government guidelines state entitlement to ‘Housing and homelessness assistance’ but many councils take the view that ‘Housing’ doesn’t mean council housing and ‘Homelessness assistance’ can be taken to mean advice and help, not the provision of social housing and so the hungry monster that IS the judicial review process gets fed.
So you see it isn’t an easy ride for any foreign national, including EEA nationals and ASYLUM SEEKERS DON’T GET COUNCIL HOUSES.
Many people from abroad work in the UK quite happily and legally without recourse to public funds without being either asylum seekers or refugees.
Most work in the lower paid jobs in the NHS or office and hotel cleaning work, often living cheek by jowl in the worst property conditions saving money to send home to help their families.
These are the people who are going to be worst hit by the Right to Rent that is rolling out from 1st February. Criminal landlords and gangs specialise in renting to people without recourse to public funds simply because they cant complain to anyone.
These kinds of landlords are very difficult to track down and don’t care about trivialities like penalties or prosecutions and with so many normal landlords shying away from renting to foreign nationals, lest they get it wrong, the most desperate are being forced further into the clutches of gangs, traffickers and general n’er-do wells.
Also, in a recent announcement by Home Secretary Theresa May government plans are revealed for foreign nationals who have been in the UK for 5 years but still earn below £35,000 will be denied settlement in the UK and deported.
So far they have exempted nurses from this restriction, placing them on the Shortage Occupation List but not for much longer it would seem.
So next time you hear the phrase “I’ll bet if I was an asylum seeker I’d get a council house”, just remember…its an urban myth.