Outcry over adverts that ‘give preference to Asians for housing
ADVERTS clearly stating that Asian applicants will get priority for sheltered accommodation were condemned by a housing minister last night.
The advert claimed preference over housing "will be given to Asian applicants"[GETTY]
They have already sparked a fierce racism controversy in the town of Chatham in Kent.
Critics say there would be an outcry if discriminatory adverts appeared saying that priority for the taxpayer-subsidised scheme would be given to white Britons. The housing association behind the offer has defended its actions.
It insists the home is always willing to accept people from any ethnic group but says the property was built to address a lack of provision for elderly Asians.
It provides translation services specific to this group, for example.
But last night Housing Minister Kris Hopkins hit back, saying: “People want to see fair play, and social housing should be allocated to local people based on need.
“Whatever the original intent, I am concerned that any housing policy based on race will undermine good community relations and harm integration.
“This is a classic example of the gold-plating of equality rules doing more harm than good.” The Apni Haweli flats, which have a warden to keep an eye on residents, are run by Orbit Housing.
Adverts posted online say that “preference will be given to Asian applicants”.
The housing scheme was set up in partnership with a local council in 2002 specifically to ensure there was enough sheltered housing for the area’s older Asians.
Housing Minister Kris Hopkins is concerned about community relations following the housing row [ROSS PARRY]
This is a classic example of the gold-plating of equality rules doing more harm than good
Kris Hopkins, Housing Minister
Members of the public commenting online about the advert argued that its wording racially discriminates against white people.
Some warned that such adverts were a propaganda gift to the racist far-Right.
But others praised the scheme for helping people from all racial backgrounds.
Some supporters pointed out that the Asian residents may have worked and paid taxes in Britain for decades but could need extra tailored support as they grow more infirm and perhaps struggle to communicate in English.
A spokesperson for the Orbit Group said: “The scheme was funded by the Housing Corporation with a view to meeting an identified need for the Asian over-55s.”
It said this group has been found to be under-represented in sheltered housing in the Medway area.
The spokesman added: “We let our homes through a choice-based lettings scheme with Medway and Kent.
“No one has ever been declined a place here because of their ethnicity.
“Today five of the 16 residents (with two places currently empty) are ‘white British’.”
Ministers are acutely conscious of how perceptions that any particular group is getting preference for a public service can breed resentment and community divisions.
To tackle concerns about the impact of unprecedented immigration the Coalition has moved to let councils give local residents priority on housing waiting lists with new immigrants made to wait two years before they are eligible.