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New papers released on migration, housing and community cohesion in Wales


The Wales Migration Partnership (WMP) has launched the second in a series of detailed briefing papers on migration in Wales.

Written by Professor Heaven Crawley, the briefings offer up-to-date summaries of the evidence base available on migration in Wales, while also tackling some of the myths surrounding asylum seeker, refugee and migrant communities.

The latest papers set out the existing data and research evidence on ‘Migration and Housing’ and ‘Migration and Community Cohesion’ in Wales.

Professor Heaven Crawley, Director of the Centre for Migration Policy Research (CMPR) at Swansea University said;

“The scale and nature of migration to Wales has changed considerably over the past decade, and this ongoing series of briefings seeks to set out a clear understanding of the numbers of people arriving, their backgrounds and experiences, and also the impacts that changing migration trends might have on local services and communities.

“While much of the current debate on the potential impacts increased migration might have on public services in Wales is underpinned by assumption rather than fact, these latest briefings show that as recently as 2009 recent migrants made up less than 2% of all those in social housing. These papers identify clearly that the real issues to be addressed in public policy are the issues of homelessness, the poor state of housing repair and the levels of hate crime experienced by many people arriving in Wales.”

Commenting on the briefing paper series, Anne Hubbard, Director for the Wales Migration Partnership said:

“While the effects of immigration are debated widely, little work has previously been done to offer a true understanding of the trends and impacts of migration in Wales. These briefing papers seek to fill this gap and to ensure that public policy is shaped by a true understanding of the evidence that is available.”


Migration and Housing

• The Welsh Government has responsibility towards migrants living in Wales under its housing, health, education and social service functions and through its community cohesion agenda
• Housing is a devolved issue in Wales which means that responsibility for policy in this area lies with the Welsh Government
• There are an estimated 1.35 million homes in Wales of which around 70% are owner-occupied. The remainder are split between homes rented from local authorities or housing associations (16%) and homes rented from private landlords (14%)
• There are a number of challenges facing housing in Wales, the most significant of which is the fact that people are living longer. By 2026, nearly a quarter of the population is expected to be over 65 years of age and nearly one in twenty people over 85 years of age
• Changing patterns of international migration to Wales have coincided with significant changes in the housing market most notably household growth as a result of people living longer and more people living alone or in smaller households
• Housing options for international migrants in Wales depend on their immigration status and associated legal rights, as well as their financial resources and opportunities
• Research in North and West Wales has found that inward migration from the affluent suburban parts of Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and from the South East rather than international migration has had the greatest impact on housing
• The majority of migrants entering the UK in recent years have had restricted access to social housing and in 2009 recent migrants made up less than 2% of all those in social housing
• Increased immigration has had the greatest impact on the private rented sector. Some research suggests that 60-90% of recently arrived migrants live in private rented accommodation although longer established migrants tend to have accommodation similar to the UK-born i.e. they are homeowners
• There is evidence that migrants in Wales renting privately or living in accommodation provided by their employers (tied accommodation), are living in overcrowded housing that is in a poor state of repair
• Around a third (30%) of migrant workers have experienced homelessness whilst living in Wales. Migrant workers may be vulnerable to homelessness due to exploitative employment practices, poor quality housing and a lack of entitlement to public funds such as housing benefits and/or social housing
• There is evidence that refugees who have been granted leave to remain in Wales may have difficulties in accessing appropriate accommodation due to the relative scarcity of social housing and affordable private rental accommodation

Migration and Community Cohesion in Wales

• Although policy on migration is not devolved, the Welsh Government has responsibility to migrants, asylum seekers and refugees living in Wales under its housing, health, education, social service functions and through its community cohesion agenda
• The public sector equality duty including a requirement for public bodies to foster good relations between those who share a relevant protected characteristic and those that do not. Work around ‘fostering good relations’ is about tackling prejudice and promoting understanding between people from different groups.
• There is no single universally shared definition of what community cohesion means but according to the Welsh Government community cohesion is what must happen in all communities to enable different groups of people to get on well together
• The Welsh Government Community Cohesion Strategy Getting on Together was launched in 2009 and focuses on policy and service areas that have a significant impact on how well a community gets on together including housing, learning, community, equality and the prevention of extremism
• A number of different and interrelated factors that can impact on community cohesion at the local level including perceived competition over resources, increased immigration into the UK, most recently from EU accession states, additional housing pressures created by inward migration into rural areas, perceptions of increased competition for employment and services and concerns that demographic changes in rural areas could impact on the sustainability of predominantly Welsh-speaking communities
• The existing evidence indicates that there is no straightforward relationship between the number of migrants in a particular community and levels of cohesion. Tensions in areas of new migration are often a reflection of broader issues including poverty, deprivation and racism
• Existing evidence suggests that attitudes to migration in the UK are generally negative. There is some evidence that attitudes in Wales are more favourable compared with other areas of the UK, although recent research has found that attitudes towards migrants, particularly refugees, are more negative than elsewhere
• There is evidence of racism and discrimination in Wales. More than two thirds from ethnic minority backgrounds report experiences of racism in Wales and around three quarters of all hate crimes in Wales are race hate crimes

The Wales Migration Partnership (WMP) is funded by the Home Office to offer strategic leadership and an independent, advisory and consultative role on migration in Wales. The partnership allows sharing of expertise, diverse range of views and vital information minimising adverse impacts and maximising the benefits of migration.

The briefing papers can be can be downloaded at www.wmp.org.uk.

Additional data and resources can be downloaded from the Wales Migration Portal http://wmp.infobasecymru.net/IAS

For more information contact: Stuart Hodges

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