Eric Pickles: New EU 'influx' may add to housing problems


Eric Pickles: "I have seen figures. I wasn't confident of those figures"

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Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has warned that an "influx" of Romanians and Bulgarians would add to the existing housing problems in the UK.

But he refused to give an estimate of the numbers of people who might move to Britain after getting the right to live and work in the UK in December.

"I don't think anybody knows," he told the BBC, adding that more work had to be done on drawing up a robust figure.

He said he did not want to start a "scare story" on the issue.

Temporary curbs were imposed on Romanians and Bulgarians in 2005 to protect the British labour market, but those curbs expire in December and under EU laws cannot be extended.

Mr Pickles was asked about the impact of a fresh wave of EU migrants by Andrew Neil on the BBC's Sunday Politics after a discussion about the low rate of housing growth.

Asked how many Romanians and Bulgarians he expected to move to the UK, he said: "The truth is I don't think anybody entirely knows the number that will come from Bulgaria and Romania."

He said he had had "no discussions with the Home Office with regards to the numbers".

But he said individual councils were taking action to prepare for a possible large increase in the numbers of people moving to the UK from the two countries next year.

"We do know of a number of boroughs that have a higher than average number of Romanians so I would expect to see influxes in the east of London, which is predominantly where they are now," he said.

Social housing problems

The last Labour government vastly underestimated the numbers of people from the first wave of eastern EU member states who would move to the UK, nearly a decade ago.

And Mr Pickles said he would not quote any figure until he was sure about it: "I have seen figures. I wasn't confident of those figures. I have asked for a further explanation and when I've got that explanation and when I feel confident about the figures I'll talk about them."

But, he added: "Given that we've got a housing shortage, any influx from Romania and Bulgaria is going to cause problems - it's going to cause problems, not just in terms of the housing market but also on social housing markets."

The Home Office has not produced an official estimate of how many of the 29 million Romanian and Bulgarian citizens will take advantage of their new freedoms when controls are lifted.

But some experts predict a large number of immigrants from Eastern Europe, which Labour has warned could put pressure on British jobs and wages.

The government's migration advisory committee says there is evidence that Bulgarians would move to Britain because of its stronger economy, and it was "plausible" Romanians would come for the same reason.

Home Secretary Theresa May said in November that temporary curbs could not continue under EU law and the government was looking instead at limiting access to benefits and the NHS to reduce the "pull factors" that encouraged migrants to come to the UK.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Mr Pickles should get an award for the way he refused to answer some pretty straight forward questions. This type of attitude makes me what has happened to openness and transparency - obviously Eric does not agree with the public being made aware of facts and predictions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Britain's future is in Europe, but this free movement of labour garbage has to end, it is an unfair burden on nations targeted by poor eastern Europeans.They should not have been allowed in if their GDP was below a certain level. The rapid expansion of EuroZone was a political decision to be bigger than USA..Its becoming a Failed Experiment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    And Mr Pickles said he would not quote any figure until he was sure about it: "I have seen figures. I wasn't confident of those figures. I have asked for a further explanation.

    But I will stir it up by making sweeping statements about forgieners taking our house

    Off and join UKIP Mr Pickles

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Why is it so difficult to get to grips with the Immigration issue ?
    No doubt only those who speak our language and have qualifications
    should be invited.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    His performance this morning was abysmal - how someone is retained in that role when he does not have a handle on the figures is amazing. This is just another Tory smokescreen for them failing to making the economy grow and increase housing starts.
    Don't blame the last government for the coming influx the coalition have had 32 months to prepare.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Its a bit late to try and curb now. Housing shortages.Youth unemployment and increased crime all increased by massive EU migration. It does not affect the posh boys at the top so why should they worry.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    We cannot afford anymore social and economic problems in the UK. We are already living on top of each other and our services cannot stand anymore strain. If the rich and powerful want them here they can pick up the bill for any cost. Enough is enough.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Leaving the EU is not a realistic option and will not happen.
    We do need _much_ more stringent controls regarding benefits to migrant workers and that includes no automatic right to housing, etc.
    The problem is that it's going to require a fair increase in civil servants to monitor it, this at a time when all Government Depts are cutting back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    If Mr Pickles thinks that we having a housing shortage then he must also answer the question "who is responsible for it" Nearly three years after taking and this corpuscular
    government has not produced a housing green paper let alone a bill. Perhaps they feel that there is nothing to be done in which case they should go. Blaming our neighbours when the house is burning down does not stop fires.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    A 10 year qualifying period for benefits, free education and free medical should go some way help keep the numbers down to those genuinely coming to work and those just looking to exploit the system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    "But some experts predict a large number of immigrants from Eastern Europe, which Labour has warned could put pressure on British jobs and wages"...........................

    Their hypocrisy knows no bounds!!!.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    That's all we need, more Eastern European in-fighting in our country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Lets face it, its not just about housing. Its about employment and healthcare and many other issues relating to intergration. The Gov cant keep dumping millions of immigrants here without first putting measures in place to cope !

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    For the love of god get us out of this nightmare.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.


  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Right. So don't let them in, and withdraw rights to benefits for non-citizens.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Pickles is right.

    The only solution to get out of the EU.


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