Northern Ireland

Migrants 'vulnerable to housing exploitation'

Housing in Belfast
Image caption The report highlighted longer waiting times for Catholic applicants for social housing

Migrant workers in Northern Ireland are "extremely vulnerable to exploitation and discrimination", according to the Equality Commission.

Migrants are having to work long hours while living in expensive and overcrowded housing, says a new report.

Catholics are waiting longer than Protestants to get social housing, and the delay has doubled since 2009, adds the report.

The commission has compiled the report based on a range of evidence.

People from minority ethnic groups are said to be vulnerable to attack and a fifth of people with disabilities live in homes which do not meet their needs, says the report.

Dr Evelyn Collins, Chief Executive of the Equality Commission, said: "Ensuring that everyone has access to a sustainable, secure home and enjoys the right to independent living, and the development of shared, safe communities are essential building blocks to a successful, flourishing Northern Ireland.

"As a society we must not ignore inequalities in this crucial area

"Unchallenged, they will continue to affect the lives of many people across Northern Ireland and the life chances of future generations."

Image copyright Equality Commission
Image caption The report has highlighted a number of issues

The report found that Catholics wait an average of 15 months for social housing, compared to Protestants, who wait an average nine months.

People from what is called "other religions" waited for 13 months according to the latest figures.

It was not clear why Catholics have to wait longer, said the commission, but it pointed to the short supply of housing in certain areas.

In west Belfast, for instance, people waited an average 28 months.

In certain areas, such as north Belfast, the peace line meant that when vacant housing did become available, it could not be filled by Catholic applicants, says the report.