Migration is often cited in public debate as a significant factor in the demand for UK housing. This POSTnote provides an overview of available research on migrants and housing. It examines definitions and data sources on migration and its implications. It also outlines the possible impact of migrants on housing, including variation by tenure type, migrant characteristics and region. Finally, it considers the impact of housing on migrants and local communities.Jump to full report >>
Migration to the UK and how it influences housing and local areas is a complex subject. This is complicated further because there is no clear, agreed-upon definition for a ‘migrant’. Generally, it is defined as someone who is foreign-born, and has resided in the UK for over a year. This includes people who migrate for reasons of work, family, study and asylum. Recent estimates state that 1 in 8 of the UK resident population is foreign-born whilst net migration (immigration minus emigration) was estimated at +248,000 for 2016.
There are three main housing tenures in the UK:
Most new migrants (resident for under 5 years) are not eligible for social housing and data shows that over 90% of new lettings in social housing were made to UK nationals in the past few years. Most new migrants reside in the prive rented sector, which can include accommodation tied to their employment and houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs). However, as rights and resources can accumulate as length of residence increases, migrant groups tend to follow similar housing pathways to the UK-born population and own their own home.
Housing demand is influenced by a number of complex factors, including population size, household structure, age of residents and the condition of the economy. Housing needs are also influenced by overall population size and changes in the structure of the population caused by both migration and “natural change” (births minus deaths). Migration accounts for around a third of projected household growth. Even if migration were to be stopped completely, the gap between housing supply and demand means that construction would still fall short of what is required for the UK population.
Studies from neighbourhoods in the UK indicate that the relationship between immigration, social cohesion and integration are influenced, in part, by factors such as deprivation and impoverishment of an area, ethnic segregation and existing diversity. These issues become more acute when communities face a shortage of accommodation and competition to access suitable housing increases. Meeting local housing demand across all groups is likely to be key to facilitating social cohesion whilst local areas should take the lead on community integration, called for by government policy.
POSTnotes are based on literature reviews and interviews with a range of stakeholders and are externally peer reviewed. POST would like to thank interviewees and peer reviewers for kindly giving up their time during the preparation of this briefing, including:
*Denotes people who acted as external reviewers of the briefing.
Authors: Abbi Hobbs; Claire Tranter
The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology produces independent, balanced and accessible briefings on public policy issues related to science and technology.