Lunchtime news, October 22

The latest issue of LPW continued to make headlines over the weekend with the Sunday Express and the Observer quoting our lead story about the YouGov poll suggesting a million people had used their credit cards to meet home loan repayments or rent in the past year. Several papers also reported the International Monetary Fund’s gloomy forecast for the housing market, which says that house prices in the UK are hugely inflated and predicts that we (along with Ireland and Spain) are heading for a slump in the not too distant future.

The Telegraph titles bucked the trend in rejecting the IMF’s report. The housing market is not all doom and gloom, the paper told its readers. Of course, the Telegraph is owned by two former property developers, but clearly this has no influence on its upbeat reporting of the property market and the expectation that price rises are set to continue.

Nor could it have had anything to do with the Sunday Telegraph rejecting the LPW survey. The paper’s objections did not really withstand scrutiny because it misreported the figures and got its quotes wrong.

Immigration will be a big factor in pushing up Britain’s population by a third, according to economics professor Robert Rowthorn of Cambridge University. He forecasts a 21 million increase by 2074 and believes the rise, fuelled by immigration and higher birth rates, will put enormous strain on schools, hospitals and other public services.

Meanwhile, thousands of people are forced to spend years living in abject poverty on the streets of Britain’s cities after fleeing persecution in their own countries, an independent asylum inquiry has heard. The destitute have no access to help from the state as they have not been granted asylum, yet they prefer to stay in Britain rather than return home because they fear of being tortured or killed.

Questions about who is at the head of the queue for social housing are raised by official figures showing nearly one in 12 of council homes goes to a foreign national. More than 300,000 social housing properties are allocated to foreign nationals – eight per cent of all social housing in Britain.