Immigration, a key issue during the General Election, is set to be equally important in the coming Parliamentary session, but it only received the briefest mention in the Queen's Speech. The Guardian commentator wondered if the Prime Minister kept the topic relatively quiet out of sensitivity for the Queen, who, they noted, â€œherself, married an immigrant.â€
However, we can expect action in many areas to control immigration. On 22nd May, in a speech on immigration, the Prime Minister referred to the pilot immigration checks currently taking place in the Midlands, where landlords and agents are required to check that all new tenants have the 'right to rent.'
'For the first time we've had landlords checking whether their tenants are here legally,â€ he said.
â€œThe Liberal Democrats only wanted us to run a pilot on that one. But now we've got a majority, we will roll it out nationwide, and we'll change the rules so landlords can evict illegal immigrants more quickly,â€ he said.
Mr Cameron said that a new mandatory licensing scheme will be introduced along with new rules allowing landlords to evict illegal immigrants more quickly. â€œWe'll also crack down on the unscrupulous landlords who cram houses full of illegal migrants, by introducing a new mandatory licensing regime. And, a bit like ending jobs when visas expire, we'll consult on cancelling tenancies automatically at the same point,â€ he said.
David Cox, Managing Director at the Association of Residential Letting Agents
(ARLA), says that this is not a full solution. â€œThis is a step in the right
direction, it's not the full solution to the problem of rogue agents plaguing
the market. We urge the Government to take this opportunity and impose more
appropriate, overarching regulation on the whole lettings industry,â€ he added.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) said it has written to Immigration Minister James Brokenshaw asking for an urgent meeting to discuss the proposals. â€œNo form of universal licensing of rented property is proven to capture the most unscrupulous landlords. As so often, the devil will be in the detail,â€ said the RLA Chairman Alan Ward.
Richard Lambert, CEO of the National Landlords Association (NLA), said, 'Landlords are happy to help to check that tenants are who they claim to be. However this should not be a way for the Government to pass the buck on to landlords when tacking illegal immigration,' he said, 'We also had several questions regarding the scheme at the outset which still have not been answered. We hope, before the scheme is rolled out nationally, that the Government takes the time to review how the first phase in the West Midlands has worked and draws on the lessons from that, rather than ploughing ahead regardless.'
Right to buy extended to Housing Association tenants
During the general election, one of the Conservatives' key pledges was an extension of Margaret Thatcher's Right to Buy scheme to 1.3 million housing association tenants in England.
Under the plans, housing association tenants will be able to buy the homes they currently rent at a discount.
Communities Minister Greg Clark said that the government wanted to extend the opportunity for people to own their home. â€œEvery housing association property sold under the government's right to buy scheme will be replaced one-for-one with a new property, said Mr Clark.
â€œWhat is released in terms of sale can build an extra home . so it is adding to the housing stock,â€ he said. 'Just because you've signed a social tenancy doesn't mean you should be signing away your aspiration to own a home.'
More help for home buyers
There will also be help for first time buyers, with 200,000 starter homes made available to under 40s at a 20% discount.
David Whittaker, Managing Director of Mortgages for Business, said, â€œOne real danger from today's announcements could be an eagle-eyed focus on home-ownership at the expense of other tenures.
â€œA home-owning society of 'Grand Designs' would be ideal . but in reality people often need homes they can afford near their place of work. So the government must ensure that any pledge to replace housing association properties sold off through Right to Buy actually happens . and shouldn't overlook the role of the burgeoning private rented sector.â€
â€œThe new government should be preparing for a long slog on the housing front. One Housing Bill won't be enough.â€
A new â€œRight to Buildâ€ is also expected be announced . a policy 'designed to boost housebuilding', focused on self-builders. Those eligible will have 'the right' to be allocated land with planning permission, to self-build or commission a local builder to build a home.
Richard Sexton, Director of e.surv chartered surveyors, said, â€œIt's welcome to see the government acting quickly on their pre-election promises but minor tweaks to the system cannot possibly mop up all the buyers who want to get on the housing ladder today.
â€œEarmarking land to make it easier and quicker to self-build is a positive nod towards increased house building, although the process remains far from simple. Planning regulations are still far too restrictive and the number of skilled workers who can physically put a house together is another anchor on new housing volumes.â€