Saturday, July 27, 2013

500,000 immigrants have been given British social housing in last decade as number of families on waiting list hits record high

Nearly half a million immigrants have been given taxpayer-funded homes over the past decade.

The revelation comes as the number of families on the waiting list for social housing hits a record 1.8million. Most are British born.

Of the four million migrants who arrived between 2001 and 2011, 469,843 were allocated council or housing association properties.

Around 1.2million foreigners now live in social housing – one in eight of the total. In London the figure is thought to be as high as one in five.

The national census statistics, which were released yesterday, highlight fears about increased pressure on public services when Romanians and Bulgarians win free access to jobs in this country in January.

The figures also show the effects of the large-scale immigration encouraged by the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown governments.

According to the census, 105,506 of the immigrants who found social housing after 2001 were from Eastern European states that joined the EU in 2004, most of them Poles.

In the mid-2000s, Whitehall officials estimated that the cost to taxpayers of maintaining a single social housing unit was £620 a year.

Assuming each unit is occupied by four people, that would put the housing costs of post-2001 migrants at between £5billion and £8billion.

Sir Andrew Green, of the MigrationWatch think-tank, said: ‘The figures serve to underline the huge costs of mass immigration – costs often ignored by the immigration lobby.’

In 2009, a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission claimed there was ‘no evidence to support the perception that new migrants are getting priority over UK-born residents’.

The research found no evidence of abuse of the system such as queue jumping or providing false information.

But in March David Cameron announced a clampdown, including plans for a local residence test.  Local people will be given priority on waiting lists for social housing and migrants will become eligible only after two years.

Councils say the fundamental flaw in the plan is they will still be obliged to help any EU migrants who present themselves as homeless.

Mike Jones, of the Local Government Association, says: ‘If we don’t house them that means we are going to have to deal with them under the homeless laws which cost us a great deal more.’


British doctors could be forced to carry out immigration checks on patients

Doctors and nurses could be forced to check the immigration status of patients to see if they can be charged, official documents have disclosed, despite a Government pledge that NHS staff will not become “border guards”.

Ministers earlier this month announced controversial plans to crack down on “health tourism” by making foreigners pay a £200 levy for NHS care.

A consultation document released by the Department of Health makes clear that frontline NHS staff could “clearly have a role in identifying chargeable patients”.

Despite assurances from Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, that the new measures will not affect patient care, the consultation only makes it clear that doctors will not be “diverted wholesale” from looking after patients under the controversial plans.

Health campaigners last night warned that the scheme will be a “disaster” and could cause more scandals like those seen at the Mid Staffordshire and Morecambe Bay trusts, where thousands may have died needlessly.

Under the plans, foreigners from outside the European Union applying for visas lasting more than six months will have to pay the new “health care levy”. They are currently entitled to free treatment.

Shorter-term visitors will also face charges for their treatment. There are additional plans to make it easier for the NHS to recover the cost of treating EU nationals and to help doctors identify those eligible for treatment.

Nobody will be refused emergency care under the proposals.

The 60-page consultation document states that clinicians “are often well placed to identify visitors who are chargeable”.

It says that for the system to be adopted by the NHS, officials will have to ensure that “clinicians’ time must not be diverted wholesale from clinical matters”.

The consultation adds that “the new system must not compromise the safe, efficient and cost-effective delivery of healthcare, particularly in critical front line services including Accident & Emergency and GP practices”.

“Staff across the system will clearly have a role in identifying chargeable patients, but the rules and systems should be as straightforward as possible,” the document states.

“Clinicians are not expected to take on the role of immigration officials, but they are often well placed to identify visitors who are chargeable. The process we design will need to ensure there is no conflict with their professional obligations.”

Mr Hunt this month said it was only right for immigrants to have to contribute towards the NHS, which costs taxpayers around £5,000 per family.

Official figures show that about £33 million was spent last year on treating foreign nationals in hospital. About two thirds of this money was recovered.

The Department of Health believes that less than half of overseas visitors are currently identified.

The Health Secretary said that he wants “a system that is fair for the British taxpayer by ensuring that foreign nationals pay for their NHS treatment”.

He added: “No one expects health workers to become immigration guards and we want to work alongside doctors to bring about improvements, but I'm clear we must all work together to protect the NHS from costly abuse."

Julie Bailey, who set up the Cure The NHS group after her mother Bella died at Stafford Hospital in 2007, told the Telegraph "It would be a disaster. Doctors and nurses are trained to look after people - not to look at people's immigration status.

“We can not expect out doctors and nurses to do any more than they are doing already.  “Whoever came up with this ridiculous idea needs to think again. It will lead to more scandals like Mid Staffs.”

The British Medical Association warned that the proposals will “divert valuable time away from treating patients”.

“NHS staff are already struggling to cope with rising patient demand and declining resources, especially in general practice and key hospital services like emergency care,” a spokesman said.

“Asking them to undertake complicated vetting checks would place another burden on overstretched services and divert valuable time away from treating patients.”

Dr Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “We agree that the health service must not be abused and that we must bring an end to health tourism, but it is the role of GPs and their teams to care for patients, not to be an arm of the border agency checking people's passports and collecting money at the till point.”

And Jamie Reed, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, added: “The NHS is not an International Health Service - but neither should it be a branch of the UK Border Agency.

“Unfortunately, this Government has a habit of announcing policies that sound good but prove to be completely unworkable.”


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