Havering’s immigration fears: Cause of housing crisis?

09:00 28 June 2014

South Street in Romford.

South Street in Romford.


No matter who you speak to, you are likely to be told that Havering is facing a vast problem with social housing.

Many people have cited this as the reason they voted for Ukip in the May elections, giving the anti-immigration party its biggest success in London.

It’s clear that there is a massive strain on housing – but is immigration really to blame?

The Recorder spoke to Havering residents in South Street, Romford, to see if their perceptions matched the reality.

An overwhelming majority of people thought that social housing in Havering disproportionately went to immigrants.

Samantha Janes, 19, of Rush Green Road, Rush Green, confidently guessed that 75 per cent of people in social housing had moved to the borough in the last two years. Albert Thompson, 85, also described 
immigration as the “biggest 
issue” for people in Havering.

“It’s caused so much hardship for everyone and it has caused the housing situation,” he said.

But he was shocked when he found out that the number of people in Havering’s social housing who had moved to the borough in the last two years was zero.

“Can you believe that?” he said. “I am surprised.”

In fact, the council’s policy, introduced in 2013, is that to be placed on the housing list you must have lived in the borough, let alone the country, for at least two years.

This threshold is set to rise shortly to five years.

But there is no doubting Mr Thompson’s real concerns.

“I feel very sorry for the youngsters. I have two grandchildren and they’re struggling to get decent jobs,” he said.

Miss Janes also has frustrations and she said she has been on the housing register for years without getting a home.

With more than 2,200 people queuing for social housing in the borough, she will continue to wait too.

People also estimated that a great proportion of those waiting for housing had 
recently moved to the country. But, nearly 85pc of these have lived in the borough for more than five years.

But still, Havering’s Ukip leader, Cllr Lawrence Webb, wants to see a stricter system in place where long-term residents get a higher priority over others.

He said: “Anyone from 
anywhere in Europe can declare themselves to be homeless, they may have a string of villas in the 
Algarve but there’s no way to check it.”

He was unable to offer any proof that it has happened and said it was an “extreme example”, but warned that people with ties to Havering are sliding off the waiting list thanks to immigrants on low incomes.

But Havering’s new housing chief, Cllr Damian White, denied that immigrants have a detrimental affect on the demand for social housing.

He said: “Not at all, it’s not immigrants, or immigration, that is causing a problem. It’s a lack of housing that we are trying to deal with. The previous Census shows birth rate in Havering is dramatically 
increasing – that’s why we are ending up with more people living in Havering.”

It is not just housing in the borough that people are worried about –– the number of people who don’t speak English and the changing ethnic makeup of the area also concerns residents.

Jake Moyes, 19, of Rush Green Gardens, Rush Green, said: “I hate it when you walk down the road and you hear people talk another language.

“I think if you are in England you should talk English.”

He guessed that 30 per cent of people in Havering do not speak English as their first language.

However, Havering has the highest proportion of people in England and Wales who speak English as their main language. Less than 5 per cent of residents don’t speak English as their first language.

Molly Dobisz, 17, of Warren Drive, Elm Park, who described herself as “quite a racist person”, guessed that there are “more black people than white people” in Havering and at least 60pc of them are not white British.

But the proportion of people in Havering who are not white British is 17pc and that includes white Australians and Canadians not just black people.

Read more:

‘Illegal immigrants’ found in potato truck on Noak Hill farm

Romford father of two jailed for immigration offences

Two men jailed for running bogus immigration firm based in Romford

Latest News Stories

The cast of Aladdin, which is running at the Queen's Theatre this festive period.  Pictures: Mark Sepple

It’s panto time again and this year, Hornchurch’s Queen’s Theatre is transporting audiences to the Far East for a tale of dashing heroes and dastardly villains.

Lee Burkwood is the Green Party GLA candidate for Havering and Redbridge

The Green Party has chosen 25-year-old Lee Burkwood to fight for the Havering and Redbridge seat in May’s London Assembly election.

Emergency services were called to Upper Rainham Road at about 1am. Picture: Google Maps

A man is fighting for his life after a head on collision in the early hours of this morning that also left two others in hospital.

The sorry state of Romford Market at 11.30am on Saturday November 14

Plans for a £2million project to revamp Romford Market have been called in by two opposition leaders.

Wykeham Primary Schhol in Hornchurch. Pictures: Google Maps

Disgruntled residents have set up a petition for improved road safety to stop dangerous school-run drivers in their street.

Darrell Page and Olivie Crowther are collecting chocolate boxes to donate to foodbanks before Christmas

A couple are collecting boxes of chocolate from all over Essex to donate to foodbanks across the borough for Christmas.

Demolition work has started on the site of Romford's new leisure centre

Demolition work started at the site of Romford’s new leisure centre on Friday with building work is expected to start early in the new year.

Junior doctors at a rally in central London last month

Junior doctors will not strike today after the British Medical Association (BMA) reached an agreement with the Government to resume negotiations.

Most read news

News from your area


Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.


Win a beautiful monochrome tunic dress with Great British Life!

Great British Life is offering a beautiful monochrome silk tunic dress worth £179 to one lucky reader

Nike Trainers

Nike’s motto is ‘to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.’ With this in mind it’s no surprise why Nike is the preferred training gear for most A-list athletes. Get an extra boost in your run or height in your jump with £500 to spend on Nike trainers.

Digital Edition

Read the Romford Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder