Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Written Evidence

Memorandum by Migration Watch UK (AH 90)


  1.  Housing policy can no longer be considered in isolation from immigration policy. Immigration now accounts for 83% of our projected population increase. The current and projected rates of international migration are likely to account for about a third of new household formation or 66,000 each year. There is a close correlation between the number of households and the number of separate dwellings.

  2.  75% of net international migration is to London and the South-East of England. These regions(and also the Eastern and South-Eastern Regions which are particularly affected by internal migration from London) are projected to generate two-thirds of the total of new households being formed in England over the coming decades. The same regions are under considerable pressure in terms of the affordability of housing, pressure on infrastructure and, certainly in the case of London and the South-East, congestion.

  3.  Net immigration to the UK reached a record 223,000 people in 2004. The government's long-term projection for net immigration, on which we have based our estimate of 66,000 households being formed each year, is 145,000 per annum. this is similar to the actual average level of net immigration from 1996-2004.

  4.  Immigration is thus a major contributory factor to the shortage of supply of housing and it will also play a major part in generating demand for housing in the future. A policy which attempted to more closely align the levels of immigration and emigration would ease the demand for housing and lead to more sustainable requirements for building new housing stock.


  5.  Migration Watch UK wish to draw to the attention of the Committee the impact of immigration on housing. Immigration makes a considerable impact on the rate of household formation and therefore on the demand for housing which in turn impacts on affordability and the need to increase housing supply.

  6.  The last set of household projections, produced by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in September 2004, showed that 189,000 additional households were expected to form on average each year between 2001 and 2021. Immigration, at a projected level of 130,000 net immigrants per year, was expected to account for 59,000 (nearly a third) of these households each year.[187] Although households do not equate exactly to homes there is a close correlation between the two.

  7.  A recent paper from the Town and Country Planning Association suggested that a household formation figure of 40,000 per year resulting from immigration was a more likely scenario. This was based on household sizes being larger for recent immigrants. It will undoubtedly be the case that many new immigrants may add to existing households and/or many adults may share a household. However, this is likely to be a transient situation. Data from the 2001 census shows that the number of adults of working age per household is similar for white British and for other ethnic groups (see Appendix 1). Over a 20 year period the original calculations of a net immigration rate of 130,000 a year giving rise to 59,000 households a year is therefore likely to hold good.

  8.  Furthermore, since the household projections were published in 2004, the Government Actuary's Dept. working in coordination with the Office for National Statistics, has increased its long-term trend estimate of net migration from 130,000 to 145,000 per year. On a strictly pro-rata basis this would suggest that about 66,000 households would form on average each year as a result of immigration.

  9.  Indeed immigration over the past few years will already have generated a considerable demand for housing. Until recently housing plans were based on 1996-based population projections which assumed a net migration rate of 65,000 pa A variation of +40,000 pa in the rate of net migration was expected to add an average of about 18,000 households each year. In fact net migration over the period 1996-2004 inclusive has averaged over 140,000[188] a year which would suggest the formation of an average of 33,000 households above the government's original plans.

  10.  75% of net international migration to the UK is to London and the South-East. These regions (and also the Eastern and South-West Regions because of the effect of internal migration from London) are those which face the greatest increases in households (two-thirds of new households will be formed in these regions).[189]

  11.  We conclude therefore that immigration has been having, and will continue to have, a major impact on the demand for new housing with about one new home in three being needed to cater for new immigrants to the UK. It would therefore be sensible, in our view, to look at ways of curbing demand by reducing the flow of inward migration rather than considering only how we can increase the supply of housing with the serious impact this will have on our infrastructure and environment.

187   Hansard-Lords Written Answer HL102 8 December 2004. Back

188   Source: ONS-International Migration Volume MN30 table 2.8 and ONS News Release 4 November 2004. Figures for England alone are only available up to 1993 but international migration levels are similar to those for the UK as a whole. Back

189   Source: ODPM-household projections for England published in September 2004. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2006
Prepared 20 March 2006