Government tackles housing inequality

Housing minister Lord Falconer has outlined
the government’s Race and Housing Action Plan.

The plan, published next week, has been
developed by the Department for Transport, Local Government and the
Regions, and aims to tackle racial inequality in housing.

Speaking at the Federation of Black Housing
Organisations’ (FBHO) annual conference in Nottingham, Lord
Falconer admitted that the government had “in the past been guilty
of complacency on race issues”.

He said: “I have seen the misery that poor
housing, racial harassment and racist crime can cause. It is no
coincidence that this trio often go together with high
unemployment, poor education and deprivation.”

Among the actions set out in the plan is the
inclusion of race issues within the Housing Corporation’s
regulatory code and the recommendation that ministers should write
to underperforming councils to demand improvement.

“Our Action Plan brings together policies to
emphasise and ensure we better meet the needs of minority ethnic
groups in everything we do,” said Falconer.

Later, FBHO chief executive Anil Singh urged
delegates to get involved in Supporting People. He said: “You need
to ensure that social services and organisations such as primary
care trusts know that you exist, so you don’t get left out. Most
Supporting People money will go on existing projects, so you need
to state your case in order to compete for funds.”

The conference also heard how racist attitudes
towards refugees held by some members of black and minority ethnic
communities are an obstacle to them working together.

At a session on asylum seekers, delegates said
they faced problems in involving young black British people in
refugee issues.

However, Ronnie Moodley of the Refugee and
Migrant Forum said that anti-refugee feeling was not limited to the
young black British.

“I was attacked recently for talking about a
refugee project at a housing meeting, and I was shocked that this
came from elderly people,” he said.

He criticised the government’s dispersal
system, saying that the National Asylum Support Service has
“collapsed to some extent”.

However, he praised social workers. “They are
doing a great job and are very positive people.”

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