The Housing and Migration Network

Housing and migration

How can we improve housing for new migrants in the UK?


Policy and Research Manager
01904 615911
Research Administrator
01904 615911

Aiming to change the circumstances of new migrants who are experiencing disadvantage and poor housing.

The Housing and Migration Network was set up to:

  • improve the housing circumstances of new migrants who are experiencing disadvantage and poor housing, whether as refugees, asylum seekers, migrant workers or joining family members;
  • bring about change in the places where recent migrants live, in solidarity with other longer-term residents.

It was jointly established by HACT, and its funders, JRF and the Migration Foundation, part of Metropolitan Housing Partnership.

The issues

  • New migrants often enter the UK housing market in the least desirable housing – frequently in disadvantaged areas or where demand for housing is lowest.
  • With increased migration resulting from the expansion of the European Union (EU), more new migrants have been seeking housing in or around rural areas, where employment in agriculture, tourism and related industries has been available to them.
  • They often depend on housing tied to their employment and the private rented sector, where they may experience overcrowding, poor conditions and insecurity.
  • Increased migration to the UK also coincides with a shortage of – and high demand for – affordable housing.
  • Poor housing, competition for housing and high levels of population 'churn' have a detrimental impact on relationships at local level between different groups, particularly in areas not used to such change.
  • Highly politicised and negative debates about migration can result in whole groups of people, such as asylum seekers and migrants from EU accession states, experiencing discrimination. These debates are often not based on evidence – there is a lack of basic information about new migrants, their numbers, their housing and economic circumstances, their status and their rights.

About the Housing and Migration Network

The Network has been chaired by JRF's Chief Executive, Julia Unwin, and driven by a diverse group of 20 policy influencers and practitioners from the public, private and voluntary sectors. The group has explored practical solutions to the pressures placed on housing and neighbourhood cohesion by continuing migration.

Network recommendations

  • Recognise the need to include migrant housing within mainstream housing policy, planning and provision.
  • Recognise that migrants are over represented in the poorest-standard private rented sector housing; and ensure this group is protected alongside other vulnerable groups.
  • Consider both the direct and indirect impact on migrants of changes to Housing Benefit levels and increasing use of the private rented sector to fulfil statutory housing duties.
  • Recognise that civic and political leadership at national and local levels is essential to promote integration and cohesion.
  • More testing of practical and innovative ways for social housing providers to contribute towards alleviating housing problems, including amongst destitute migrants.
  • Better information, advice and guidance to facilitate migrants' access to housing options and enable them to make informed choices.
  • Innovative funding and housing models that provide low-cost and affordable housing to meet the needs of seasonal-working single migrants (and others in temporary employment).

Network outputs

UK Migration: the leadership role of housing providers (JRF, August 2011)
This study demonstrates that social housing providers can and do play a pivotal role in housing new migrants and supporting good community relations at neighbourhood level. It also shares best practice from areas in which local authority officers and politicians respond to fast-changing populations by joining forces with housing providers and local people, including migrants themselves, to take an integrated approach to new migration.

UK migrants and the private rented sector (JRF, April 2012)
Endorsed by Advice UK, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), the National Landlords' Association and Shelter, this is the first national report to explore the needs and experience of new migrants who live in the private rented sector. It provides evidence that they are not only more likely to live in this sector than any other, but also that there is a greater likelihood that they will end up in its poorest sub sector. The report outlines some practical solutions that local authorities, housing providers and voluntary and community groups have developed to bring about improvements, albeit in a context where there is great competition for privately rented housing and increasing diversity in its provision and use. The report promotes solutions that incentivise good landlords but are tough on the small minority of bad landlords.

Housing and Migration: A UK guide to issues and solutions practice guide (CIH, June 2012)
A comprehensive guide to migration aimed at housing providers and everyone concerned with housing needs and relationships between new migrants and longer-term residents in local areas. It shares the findings, knowledge and solutions identified by the Housing and Migration Network. It provides national context but its narrative and solutions are predominantly rooted in neighbourhoods.

A list of the Housing Migration Network members can be found on page 51 of the guide.

Linked outputs

'Destitution Pack'

This draws on the experience of Hope Housing in Birmingham and provides guidance for effective joint working between social housing providers and charities supporting destitute migrants, particularly where social housing providers are willing to lease properties for use by destitute migrants at no cost or a peppercorn rent. 

The Network is promoting the Housing Rights website, which helps migrants and housing advisers understand entitlement to social housing.

CIH was an active member of the Network and its policy adviser John Perry has written the Network's reports. In recent years, CIH has worked jointly with JRF and HACT on housing and migration issues and including Opening Doors a project developed jointly with HACT, which may be of further interest.

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