David Burrowes raises concerns about housing for newly recognised refugees

8th February 2017
Speaking in a debate about private renting solutions for homeless and vulnerable people, David Burrowes raises concerns that landlords increasingly are not taking newly recognised refugees due to documentation and deposit problems.

The all-party parliamentary group on refugees has found that landlords increasingly are not taking another category of people: newly recognised refugees. They are unable to provide sufficient documentation to prove their status and struggle to get a deposit and first month’s rent in the 28-day move-on period to ensure that they get the tenancy that they deserve.

Many local authorities are doing noble work in trying to provide accommodation for the refugees—particularly the Syrian refugees—who we have taken in. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend’s local authority for doing its best. However, there will be several problems at the next stage, because we want those people to be assimilated into our society, get work and be able to function like any other person. We want to ensure that we have systems in place to allow them to transition from the support that they get at the moment. I have direct experience of that in several areas, and I am keen to talk to him about trying to find longer-term solutions to the issue.

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I have had similar experiences in my constituency surgery. Does the hon. Lady hope that the ambition, not least behind the Homelessness Reduction Bill, to deal with this matter might be realised? Sadly, responsibility is sometimes triggered only once the bailiff notices have been served. There is also the issue of the inappropriate placements in Luton. The ambition needs to be fulfilled by the housing White Paper—by ensuring that there is sufficient supply, but also that prevention duties are in place that actually mean something for the 147 families to whom she refers.

I have a controversial view on the prevention of homelessness Bill. I believe that it is a sticking plaster and does not resolve the problem. It simply puts more demand on local authorities, which cannot cope with what they have at the moment. At the heart of the matter is supply. At the heart of it is control, whether that is control over how much rent people have to pay, some control over landlords who are not prepared to maintain their properties or some control in terms of security of tenure. Unless those things are addressed, and addressed in numbers, the problem will not be resolved.

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I welcome what the hon. Gentleman says about that progress, but I was in Edinburgh over the weekend and I was particularly shocked by the level of street homelessness. I am a London MP and have sadly seen an increase in that on our streets in London, but in Edinburgh it was extremely significant.

I would not for a minute even begin to suggest that we have all the answers in Scotland, nor that, just because the evidence from organisations such as Crisis suggests that things are going the right way, we cannot do more. Clearly, more can be done. I live near Edinburgh and know the situation there very well, which is a smaller version of what we see here in London. That is why some of the Scottish Government’s interventions, which I will touch on, are directed at that.

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