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Housing Minister wades into Orbit Asian housing row

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Housing Minister wades into Orbit Asian housing row

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities

Kris Hopkins Kris Hopkins

Housing Minister Kris Hopkins has said he is concerned about "good community relations" in the wake of Orbit Housing being accused of 'discrimination'.

A media storm blew up last week after the social landlord advertised property at its Apni Haweli sheltered housing scheme in Chatham with the line "Please note priority will be given to Asian communities".

Members of the public expressed their anger on social media, believing the advert to be discriminatory against "white British" people.

And the housing minister has now chimed in. Hopkins said: “People want to see fair play, and social housing should be allocated to local people based on need.

"Whatever the original intent, I am concerned that any housing policy based on race will undermine good community relations and harm integration. This is a classic example of the gold-plating of equality rules doing more harm than good.”

However, Orbit has said that "any suggestions of discrimination are unfounded and unhelpful to community cohesion".

Writing on 24dash yesterday, Orbit Group's chief executive, Paul Tennant, outlined the housing provider's reasoning for the advert.

In a statement, Orbit said: “The scheme was funded by the Housing Corporation with a view to meeting an identified need for the Asian over 55s population, a group under-represented in sheltered housing in the Medway area when it opened more than 10 years ago.

“We let our homes through a Choice Based Lettings scheme with Medway and Kent. No one has ever been declined a place here because of their ethnicity or background. Today five of the 16 residents (with two places currently empty) are ‘White British’.”

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