Mass Migration is Fueling the Housing Crisis in the U.K. (& Canada)

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Nobody wants to admit the truth: Mass immigration is fuelling the housing crisis Liberal immigration rules are hurting wages while house building is miles off the paceJEREMY WARNER10 May 2023 • 1:00pmJeremy WarnerIt’s the reason that dares not speak its name, the elephant in the room, as it were – burgeoning net immigration. Britain’s insanely high, and increasingly unaffordable, house prices have many causes, yet it is remarkable how little mention this particular one ever gets.If we’re adding to the population through migration at the rate of a small sized city every year, it is scarcely surprising that there should be an acute shortage of housing.House prices were off a tad last month, according to the latest Halifax survey, but perhaps rather more remarkable is quite how little they’ve fallen since the peak in August last year.Given the surge in interest rates, making housing even less affordable and mortgage servicing costs far more expensive, a significantly bigger correction might by now have been expected. That there hasn’t been one is in part about a continued dearth of supply.In the year to last June – the latest official data – net migration in the UK surged to 504,000, a new record. Yet just 252,540 new dwellings were added last calendar year, a shortfall of almost exactly 50pc, or even higher taking account of the additional impact of natural population growth. Even acknowledging that each new unit is likely to house two or more people, there is simply not enough housing to go around, a phenomenon reflected not just in very high prices but also in surging rents.These costs are absorbing near record levels of disposable income, eating deep into other forms of consumption which have already been badly damaged by the cost of living crisis.Net immigration in the UK is admittedly at exceptional levels right now, with large numbers of Ukrainians and Hong Kongers added to the usual flow. This is generally not expected to last.We’ve also seen the number of overseas students come surging back after the hiatus of the pandemic. Though students count as migrants, the great bulk of them are unlikely to settle in Britain as full time residents.Even so, the idea that Brexit would stem the flow of new arrivals, or that net migration might be reduced to the “tens of thousands”, as once promised by David Cameron, is plainly for the birds.“I don’t think that’s unrealistic; that’s the sort of figure there was in the 1990s and I think we should see that again,” the one time prime minister said in the runup to the 2010 election. He never came anywhere close.Pretend asylum seekers in small boats, though politically very high profile, have little to do with the underlying problem; most of the migration is entirely legal.True, the numbers coming in from Europe are much lower than they were now that Britain has left the EU. Many have also gone back, with little intention of returning.Yet their numbers have been more than made up for by new arrivals from elsewhere in the world, particularly the sub-Continent and Africa.I’ll come to some of the reasons for this surge later, but if you are going to have such high levels of immigration it is incumbent on the Government to ensure sufficient supply in housing, social services and basic infrastructure to meet the extra demand. It has not.On housing, there is barely enough in the way of additional development to meet even new household formation from the existing population, never mind the new arrivals.Successive housing ministers have promised that they are going to nail the shortfall with planning reform. Virtually all of them have had to admit defeat. Under Michael Gove, the Government has pretty much given up on the chase altogether.The Levelling Up Secretary has both in effect abandoned local authority housing targets, and axed the mooted Oxford Cambridge Arc development, which would supposedly have delivered a million new homes.Not that it seems to have done him any good. Last week’s Tory party drubbing in local elections can be partly attributed to over-development fears. Please don’t call it Nimbyism, but opposition to further house-building proved fertile ground for the Lib Dems and the Greens.After becoming prime minister, Boris Johnson pledged to transform the UK into a “high-wage, high-skill, high-productivity economy” partly driven by limiting the influx of cheap migrant labour. Initially, there were a few signs of success. Wages surged in road haulage because of a shortage of lorry drivers, and coming out of the pandemic there was a significant rise in real wages in general, even if this was mainly about base and compositional effects.Soaring inflation since then has put an end to that. But the Government’s new immigration policy has scarcely helped, either. It has continued to be relatively easy for employers to bring in migrant labour.The median salary for men between 22 and 29 was £26,856 in 2021, and for women £25,115. Yet under the Government’s points-based system for “skilled workers”, companies can still hire from overseas for as little as £20,480 per annum.Employers complain bitterly about labour shortages, but there are five million UK residents of working age on out-of-work benefits. Bringing in labour from outside is still preferred to the hard yards of getting the unemployed back into work.Policy is at sixes and sevens; the problem of undersupply in the housing market is made worse by still relatively liberal immigration rules, which in turn act as a brake on wages.The economically inactive then have less incentive to go back to work; employers likewise have fewer reasons to invest in training and productivity. Meanwhile, expenditure on out-of-work benefits just keeps on growing.But don’t look to Labour for better alternatives when it comes to Britain’s chronic housing problem. If a report in the Financial Times is to be believed, the party would only make a bad situation worse by significantly increasing the costs to overseas buyers and limiting all new developments to first-time buyers for the first six months.Nothing would be more guaranteed to further reduce the supply of new homes. Who is going to build in the first place if an incoming Labour government attempts to confine demand in this way?There is an old truism about immigration and welfare; you can either have free movement or high welfare, but not both, or you will soon find yourself overwhelmed.Similarly with housing. You can either have lots of immigration or highly restrictive planning laws, but not both, or you’ll break the system. It is just such a destructive combination that we have today. Safety fears over 500 migrants ‘cooped’ up on first bargeBarge that will be home for 500 asylum seekers arrives in CornwallThe Bibby Stockholm will be refitted and refurbished in Falmouth before being sent to Dorset ready to take migrants on board by JulyByCharles Hymas, HOME AFFAIRS EDITOR9 May 2023 • 12:07pmThe Bibby Stockholm

The Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge is tugged into Falmouth, Cornwall, CREDIT: Matt Keeble/PA WireA barge to house 500 asylum seekers has arrived in the UK as part of the Government’s efforts to move migrants out of hotels.The Bibby Stockholm, a barge that has been used to house oil and construction workers, is to be refitted and refurbished in Falmouth before being towed to Portland Port, near Weymouth in Dorset ready to take on board the asylum seekers in June.It currently has 222 rooms with en suite bathrooms, and leisure facilities such as pool tables and a gym and catering but it will be converted to take up to 506 asylum seekers who are expected to be required to share rooms in bunk beds with en suite washing facilities.The scheme is, however, facing opposition from local Tory MP Richard Drax, and Dorset council who are considering legal action to block the “inappropriate” plan. David Sidwick, Dorset’s police and crime commissioner, is demanding extra funding from the Home Office to pay for the additional costs of policing the site.Mr Drax told The Telegraph: “It is a barge for 220 that is going to take 506. Even if you double up the rooms that still leaves 60 without a room. Some will have to be three or four beds.“What are the conditions going to be like in a barge with 506 young men from all over the world – some possibly disturbed mentally – couped up in a quasi-prison?”Barge migrants

A communal living area inside the 222-bedroom barge CREDIT: Bibby Marine LtdeCouncillors from Portland town council and Dorset council were told last week that the barge will be fenced off within the harbour to stop migrants wandering around. Portland is a secure busy port area that hosts commercial ships and cruise liners, which are expected to bring some 130,000 passengers this year.Councillors were also told that there would be hourly bus services to take migrants out of the port and on trips to Weymouth with an 11pm voluntary curfew to return.Under current asylum rules, migrants are free to come and go but those who stay out overnight are called by phone to establish why they have not come back. Any who remain out for more than seven days, or 14 calendar days and nights within any six-month period, face removal from the site.Pete Roper, the mayor  of Portland, said that in meetings with Home Office and port officials the councils had called for additional exercise and leisure facilities on the portside because of the limits within the barge for only a small gym and entertainment such as pool. It will also have prayer rooms.“I get a sense that the personal safety of the women on the island is rising to the top of the list. There is a lot of hearsay floating around at the moment regarding the behaviour of asylum seekers at hotels in other parts of the country,” said Mr Roper.“That just appears to be hearsay. It is difficult to get any concrete confirmation that this is in fact happening. But it is now getting to be a major concern because of the fact that it’s on our doorstep down the road in Falmouth.”Dorset Council said it still had “serious reservations about the appropriateness of Portland Port in this scenario and remains opposed to the proposals”.Mr Sidwick said: “I have been and remain in regular contact with the Home Secretary and policing minister, with regard to the funding required to meet the extra policing needs that this project will entail. I am determined that the funding should not come from the current police budget or from the people of Dorset.”Bill Reeves, the chief executive of Portland Port, has sought to reassure local residents about the plans. He claimed that housing migrants at the port would create new jobs and attempted to dispel fears that asylum seekers would cause trouble to local residents, saying they would be given advice about “cultural sensitivities and behaviour”.Reeves also claimed that the migrants accommodated on the barge would have been in the UK for “some time staying at hotels, so they will have an understanding of UK culture and expectations”.The Home Office said the accommodation will be “basic” with healthcare provision, catering facilities and 24/7 security. The vessel, chartered from Bibby Marine, a company that specialises in accommodation and transportation for offshore workers, will cost around £50 a day per migrant once berthed in Portland, around a third the price of hotels.Rishi Sunak previously said the barge would save taxpayers’ money, because the Government is currently spending so much housing asylum seekers in hotels.
Migrants being housed in almost 400 hotels across UKThe government is paying millions of pounds a day to put up asylum seekers in hotels

Robert Jenrick, the Immigration minister, said: “This Government has been clear that the use of expensive hotels to house the unprecedented number of asylum seekers crossing the Channel is unacceptable and must end – there are currently more than 51,000 asylum seekers in hotels costing the UK taxpayer £6 million a day.   “This is why we will be using alternative accommodation options which are more manageable for communities, as our European neighbours are doing – including the use of barges to save the British taxpayer money.“We are continuing to work closely with the councils and key partners to manage any impact in Falmouth and Portland and that appropriate arrangements are in place.”
Safety fears over 500 migrants ‘cooped’ up on