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 378.

    Spot on E Pickles - some posters do not seem to understand England is too full of people, compared with the fixed assets of roads, housing, maternity hospitals etc. As Joe Stain said, when quantity is raised too much, quantity itself becomes a NEW QUALITY.
    IF the USA wants UK to stay in EU in order to give representation of US views THEN surely US must take UK's EU immigrants & pay UK's EU taxes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 377.

    Eric - what's your problem?
    ....just add plenty of seasoning and you can eat them like you do all other annoying poor people...

  • Comment number 376.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 375.


    Your question would be valid IF all, or most/many, of the EU nations living here were claiming UK benefits......

    ....but most are not, they are working & paying taxes.....

    ....but of course you wouldn't know that because you choose to ignore the evidence in favour of the rhetoric of the tabloids......

  • rate this

    Comment number 374.

    Its not xenophobic to detail the perils of immigration,its just common sense logistics,not enough housing/jobs.If you have a cake cut into 4 pieces,8 people cant get a whole slice each.The UK is not always the dream world many abroad believe it to be.A young polish guy who couldnt speak much English, hung himself last year in the local park after losing his job and being threatened with eviction

  • rate this

    Comment number 373.

    Yeah and the British People will have to pay the price, nearly all these foreign nationals, have nice houses, cars, jobs and the government are all to happy to help them get on their feet. All British people, have are cuts to everything, forced out of homes we cannot afford, because all our jobs are going to the foreign nationals. Something is sadly wrong, when British people have to beg to live!

  • Comment number 372.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 371.

    Pickles is not confident of predictions of numbers. Fair enough, but what evidence has he for other figures?
    Every government Labour or Tory relies on predictions made by the majority of experts - dufferences only become the party's fault (or credit) if they chose to ignore the experts. So unless there is evidence that Labour did just that then it is not their fault.
    This may upset some people!

  • Comment number 370.

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

  • Comment number 369.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 368.

    It would sometimes make sense to consider that all those Poles who came here, by and large did work and so contribute to British GDP growth. And they rented the flats from British landlords (as also then they could not easily get a mortgage and have the cash available) who made lots of profit from it
    Re the new ones- most of those who wanted to leave from there have done so and whole EU is open

  • rate this

    Comment number 367.

    Immigration from Bulgaria and Romania won't *cause* housing problems, the problems are already there, and while increased immigration might exacerbate them blaming it all on the immigrants won't make the problems go away.

  • rate this

    Comment number 366.

    215. Nanabaum
    "Xenophopic knee jerk reactions"

    You employ 8 British people is not a justification of 1000's poles(or any other nationality) coming to this country solely for benefits. He is not talking about hard working people like you. Paranoia/Xenophobic/Racist are all used too often without good reason. And I am also an immigrant, doesn't mean I have to be unfair to this country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 365.

    Pickles highlights impending problem,neither he or the condems have any idea of how to prevent it or to put measures in place to make it easier to absorb another x amount of workers/patients/pupils/commuters.tenants (x=100,00? 500,000? 1m ? more?).
    They and labour have known this is coming but none have made plans.Our politicians will not be affected - remember this in 2015. Revolution is Coming!

  • rate this

    Comment number 364.

    Why is this board pre-moderated? Are the leftie Europhiles running the BBC that scared that I might say something "Xenophobic" or "racist"?

  • rate this

    Comment number 363.

    I came to England 10 years ago from Italy to study at university and have been working (and paying taxes) for 6 years now. Although an immigrant myself I think the UK desperately needs to find a way to regulate immigration based on a point system such as in Australia.
    And keep in mind that the UK has had far less problems with indiscriminate immigration than many other countries in the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 362.

    When will we get a government that actually stands up to the EU and say enough is enough? All this talk about standing up for Britain without actions is nothing more than pandering for another vote. Well Mr Cameron and Co, you won't be getting mine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 361.


    'Slovakian man; works as a Porter...5 kids..wife doesn't work...he pays around £1k in tax, but cost to the UK in Benefits, and schools, health etc is greater. Prey tell - where is the benefit to the UK'

    The benefit is that we get 5 kids with a father who is a working role model as opposed to the millions of native kids who have no father at all as a role model or a dad who won't work

  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    @312 Prisoner voting rights have nothing to do with the EU, but the European Court of Human Rights.

  • rate this

    Comment number 359.

    Duncan (156) has a good point as does Sprout (160).
    With greater freedom within the EU we are subject to greater movements in population and have to ask ourselves if this is such a good thing.
    Racism? Never.
    Thoughtful control? Working considering.


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