On January the 30th 2024, the UK Government announced how the system of social housing allocation would be reformed ‘to make the system fairer and not available to those who abuse it’.


What are we being told?


The Government plan to ‘ban those who blight communities and repeatedly make their neighbours’ lives hell through anti-social behaviour or evict them through a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy’. This seems to imply that people living in council homes have been allowed to do whatever they like until this new legislation. The Housing Minister, Lee Rowley, said that ‘decent and hardworking people that have contributed to this country will be prioritised for new social tenancies. People already living in social homes want to know that anyone moving near them will be respectful.’

New requirements for tenants will include them having a connection to the UK for the past ten years and to their local area for two years. Now, this implies that most people in council homes are not originally British and do not currently meet these new requirements.


Housing is currently allocated to those in need such as homeless people and domestic abuse victims as a priority. Good right? But according to Henry Martin of the Daily Mail, that’s a bad thing. He tells us that foreign nationals (with visas allowing them to stay indefinitely in Britain) can ‘jump the queue’ if their needs are deemed greater than those of British nationals. We could use an example; If a single mother with three children, who also happens to be a legal immigrant is living in a small one-bedroom flat, she would be given the priority over a couple with one child who happen to be British nationals, also living in a small one bedroom flat. People like Henry Martin would say that the couple in our scenario should be given a larger flat before the single mother. He goes on to say that ‘more than 1.2 million households are on waiting lists for social housing and around one in ten of those given a home are non-UK nationals.’


What is actually happening?


Let’s rephrase. Just under 90% of council homes are given to UK nationals. Yet the media tells us that social housing, apparently like many other things, are being given to non-UK nationals first.

We’re also being told that this new legislation will mean council tenants will have stricter rules placed on them in terms of antisocial behaviour. This gives the impression that there are few rules already in place surrounding this. However, the housing rules for the London borough of Hackney, which are almost identical to all social housing rules across the UK state that, ‘We may take legal action to deal with antisocial behaviour, domestic violence, hate crime and nuisance.’  There are around ten pages on every UK council’s website concerning the tenant’s responsibilities, which include harassment, nuisance and violence amongst many other things.

There are also huge problems in terms of racism in social housing. 5% of tenants are Asian despite making up 9% of the UK’s population. Academics at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh found black-led households reporting discrimination also face a risk of homelessness nearly 50% greater than that of a white-led households. Popular media spreads the idea that social housing is unfairly being given to non-UK nationals. However, in reality, this isn’t true at all, and these homes are mostly rented by white British people. There are also high numbers of cases of discrimination against minorities in terms of housing, so there is arguably quite the opposite problem.