FAMILIES are being denied council homes because asylum seekers are getting first choice, it was claimed today.
Thornhill Tory councillor Khizar Iqbal claimed people in severe financial distress were being denied properties despite council houses standing empty.
One reason was because asylum seekers and refugees were being given preference, said Clr Iqbal.
His claims were met with a flat denial today by council leaders who said each case was judged strictly on its merits.
But Clr Iqbal insisted he was right - and said he had evidence to prove it.
He said: "When asylum seekers get refugee status they jump the queue and are treated as homeless.
"It is a fact that local people are being denied council properties.
"Homelessness of local people is not being addressed because the council is too busy helping asylum seekers, despite the fact that many local people are in dire need.
"Local people are being left to cope in unacceptable overcrowded conditions."
He said there had been a 15 to 20% increase in homelessness applications from asylum seekers who had been granted refugee status.
"Local people are being treated appallingly," said Clr Iqbal.
Council leaders said it was untrue that asylum seekers got preference.
Clr Andrew Cooper, Cabinet member in charge of housing, said: "There are actually very few asylum seekers in the Thornhill Ward and in North Kirklees generally.
"It is disappointing that a councillor who should be acutely aware of this fact should seek to add to the misinformation on this topic.
"No preference is given to any one group of applicants over any other in our housing policy.
"Homeless and other housing applicants are assessed in strict accordance with their housing needs."
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