Crisis Condemns Criminalising Squatters
Crisis has come out in opposition of the government's plans to criminalise squatting. The charity is calling for the government to rethink the plans, as they will lead to the criminalisation of vulnerable people.
Making squatting a criminal offence and abolishing squatter's rights are among a range of proposals which have been put forward as part of a new Government consultation by the Ministry of Justice. The proposals were heralded by a press release entitled "Ending the misery of squatting".
In response to this, Leslie Morphy, the Chief Executive of Crisis, said: "The Ministry of Justice consultation says it wants to ‘end the misery of squatting' for property owners. What about the misery facing homeless people who are so desperate for a roof over their heads that they are often forced to sleep in abandoned buildings without heat, light or water?"
"The Government needs to end the misery of squatting - for homeless people - through providing better housing and support, not through making it a criminal offence."
Crisis' research The hidden truth about homelessness revealed that 39% of homeless people have resorted to squatting to get off the streets, challenging the portrayal of squatting as a ‘lifestyle choice'.
Crisis' research also revealed that local councils are failing to provide an adequate safety net for many, leaving them to slide into years of damaging homelessness; findings that were last week backed up by a Local Government Ombudsman report.
The plans to criminalise squatting come at a time when the number of people approaching their local authority as homeless rose by 23%, and the numbers of rough sleepers in London increased. This is also at a time of swingeing cuts to housing benefit and local authority homelessness services, which will leave more people vulnerable to homelessness, and more likely to need to become squatters.
Crisis is calling for:
- People at risk of homelessness to be given the help they need when they approach their local council - through amendment of the Localism Bill currently going through parliament
- A reversal of proposed housing benefit cuts
- More affordable housing provision, including bringing empty and disused properties back into use