Migrants aren’t to blame for the housing crisis – chronic underinvestment is

·4 min read

On Radio 4’s World at One on 19th February, Iain Duncan Smith – like the NF, BNP and UKIP before him – blamed immigrants for the housing crisis. As housing academics, we wish to point out that there is no evidence for this assertion. Far from creating the housing crisis, immigrants are much more likely to be its victims, often living in sub-standard, over-crowded, private-rented accommodation. Immigrants are very unlikely to be permanently housed in council or social housing, as Mr Duncan Smith implied. They are, however, likely to help build new homes.

The real reason for the housing crisis is four decades of underinvestment in council housing, while policy has been dominated by the private market that Duncan Smith’s own government admits is broken.

Dr Glyn Robbins LSE
Professor Danny Dorling Oxford University
Dr Suzi Hall LSE
Professor Ben Campkin UCL
Professor Rebecca Tunstall University of York
Dr Melanie Nowicki Oxford Brookes University
Dr Melissa Fernández Arrigoitia Lancaster University
Professor Rowland Atkinson University of Sheffield
Dr Romola Sanyal LSE
Dr Michele Lancione University of Sheffield
Professor Paul Watt Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Jane Lewis London Metropolitan University
Dr Neil Grey University of Glasgow
Duncan Bowie UCL
Dr Andrea Gibbons University of Salford
Dr Julia King LSE

The unconvinced centre

Your editorial may be right in suggesting that Bernie Sanders taps into the frustrations of youth but it overlooks the parallel with the Corbyn phenomenon four years ago. A radical programme may energise those willing to turn out for primaries or Labour Party meetings, but it does not guarantee that the middle ground will respond in the same way. A radical programme wiĺl fail against Trump in the mid-West, and we will be stuck with him for four more years.

EA Cameron
Kensington, West London

Labour’s redemption

I read your various letters from your correspondents decrying the Labour leadership, past and future. Yes, there have been many problems, but do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Tony Blair is castigated rightly for the Iraq War, but his other numerous achievements go under the radar.

Likewise, Corbyn and his colleagues did inspire young people to become involved in politics, making Labour the largest party in Europe, which is no mean achievement. I agree that the manifesto was overloaded with goodies but it did point to a kinder, more equal society where the infamous spectre of austerity would have been banished. When you look at our government now, with its new immigration policy, hounding the BBC and the judiciary, it is easy to feel melancholic.

Judith Daniels
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

Pandora’s box

David Davis has warned against a “firing squad” approach to dealing with turbulent permanent secretaries, but there’s little chance that Messrs Cummings or Johnson will listen to him. Moderate Conservatives have to take their share of the blame for handing them power and opening a Pandora’s box of populist far-right nastiness. They’re succeeding in taking ever more control away from the people who voted to take back control.

In Dominic Cummings, we have a Rasputin-type figure pulling the strings, and sorry Mr Davis, but I think we’re stuck with him for the foreseeable. As for Mr Johnson, I see him as more of a George IV figure – but that’s probably unfair to poor King George.

Paul Halas
Stroud, Gloucestershire

BBC Scotland

Apparently around 35,000 (or 0.6 per cent) of Scotland’s population watches the recently-launched BBC Scotland channel each day, periodically dropping to between 5,000 and 8,000. Surely the channel exists only as a consequence of SNP establishment pressure? Many consider its news output a vehicle to promote the Scottish government and its raison d’être: independence. The BBC is cash-strapped – so perhaps the channel should now be paid for from the SNP’s coffers? Makes sense – and would chime with Nicola Sturgeon’s calls for transparency.

Martin Redfern

Save SMEs

I find it intolerable that after such a decisive election defeat, Labour leadership hopefuls are still promulgating far-left socialist ideologies that are set to trash our vibrant SME sector. After narrowly escaping recession, how would increasing corporation tax, promoting trade unions and nationalising public services offer any hope of creating economic prosperity for the people of Great Britain?

Roger Paterson
Kenn, Exeter