My congratulatory present from my former employers for qualifying as a lawyer wasn’t a card, or flowers, nor indeed a vase. It consisted instead of a file and rota.
The rota was a court duty rota scheme that had been set up to provide legal representation and advice to those people who were losing their home – mainly due to rent arrears.
If they lost their home as many in fact did, I inevitably found myself representing them in their homeless applications but also in their applications to go on affordable housing waiting lists that would require them to wait an eternity before something that was usually inadequate for one reason or the other to come their way. So what’s all of this got to do with immigration?
As JCWI argues in the New Statesman, with immigration acting as a proxy for real concerns by working class people about the lack of affordable housing across the UK and with the foreclosure of the possibility of immigration numbers reverting to pre-1997 levels; experience tells me that the Budget proposals present a huge hurdle for those hoping for the development of healthier environment in which immigration law and policy might in future crystalise.
Specifically in relation to housing, the Budget proposes significant cuts to Housing Benefit through three measures. Firstly local allowances – currently calculated at the median of all local rents are to be set at 30 % of local rents.
Secondly there are to be cuts in the rates that apply for larger properties which accommodate families with only £400.00 per week being paid to those in a four bedroom property (that might sound pretty generous but factor in London rents, and I can assure you that it’s not.)
Thirdly those who are out of work and have been claiming JSA for 12 months through no fault of their own will find their entitlement cut by 10%.
These proposals sit in a wider context – the regrettable lack of investment, and running down of affordable housing through measures such as the right to buy – a process commenced under Thatcher, and continued under New Labour.
Having experienced first-hand the rigours of the existing Housing Benefit system, it seems clear that these particular proposals which sit in the context of wider public expenditure cuts that will raise unemployment and the demand for Housing Benefit, will as Shelter notes ‘push many households over the edge, triggering a spiral of debt eviction and homelessness.’
Ordinary Black and white working people throughout the country can be expected to feel the full force of these proposals, so too I fear will immigrants.