Local homes for local people' may be illegal

A key element of Gordon Brown's strategy to win the next general election is probably illegal, according to expert analysis commissioned by the UK's equality watchdog and seen by the Observer

An interim report, written by one of the country's leading think tanks for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), highlights grave doubts about the government's pledge last week to allocate more social housing to "local" people.

The emotive issue has divided Labour as it attempts to battle perceptions that a disproportionate number of council houses go to immigrants, something that has played into the hands of far-right parties including the BNP.

"We want to see a bigger role and responsibility for local authorities to meet housing needs of people in their areas," Brown said when introducing the government's legislative programme for the next year, on which it will fight the next election.

But the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), which last year was commissioned by the equality watchdog to look into housing allocation, has concluded that such measures are flawed and could open up councils to legal challenges.


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