An attack on the human right to shelter - Please circulate

Kat Fisher kat at
Fri Jul 22 20:48:37 BST 2011

*What is it all about*


On 13th of July 2011, the government published a consultation paper:"Options
for dealing with Squatting". The consultation period ends on 5th October
2011 so **we need to act NOW to be heard**

The proposals outlined would affect a much wider community than those who
identify as squatters;


   tenants would be at risk from unscrupulous landlords,


   worker and student occupations would be illegal – as would peace and
   climate camps.


   Police discretion is considered as a way of determining who is or is not
   a squatter –


   violent and forcible eviction of squatters would be legal and squatters
   lose their entitlement to legal aid.


   Anyone who used a squatted social centre or venue could be labelled a
   squatter, regardless of whether they actually lived there.

   And this is the last of our ancestral rights to go.

 For hundreds of years, we have had the right to live in abandoned
buildings.  Just as the government took away our land and rights to use
common land in the past, now they are attacking our right to shelter.

In 2009 there were 725,000 empty homes – the government estimate the number
of squatters in England and Wales at 20,000: squatting is not the problem,
it is part of the solution.

We have a problem fighting this. The consultation paper pretends to be
speaking for the normal, respectable person although it is clear enough that
the interests being promoted are those of big developers and property

The negative images of squatters spread in the media in recent months make
it hard for us to convince people that this is not a 'squatter' consultation
but an attack on the human right to shelter that will impact most heavily on
the most vulnerable people in society. These are standard divide and rule


*How you can help*



   Please understand that this is not just about squatters and parties and
   'it was nice while it lasted'.


   Pass this mail on; convince everyone in your network and get them to pass
   it on too.


   The government published this consultation paper over the summer, we
   believe calculating that our resistance would be lowest, when many of us are
   travelling or partying.  Let's exploit this and spread the word at every
   festival, gathering, gig and event; talk to people, tell them what is
   happening, take some leaflets or posters to display.


   Many of you musicians and creatives have squatted – now we need you to
   put something back, exploit your networks and get the word out. Please.


   Have a look at and for an idea of what is happening and to
   get hold of flyers and posters. If you want to find out more or read the
   consultation paper, there are a few links at the end.


   Respond to the consultation document; we need as large a quantity of
   responses from individuals as we can – and they don't need to be hugely
   detailed as the chances of them ever being read are low - but they will be


   If you represent an interested organisation or constituency, your
   response has a slightly greater chance of being read and so it may be worth
   setting out quality arguments. Check the Squash website at the beginning of
   August for guidance on writing responses and details of online petitions.

 If you have time to do any or all of this, that is fine, and thank you – it
will have a massive impact if enough of us do what we can.

 All together, now,


 ---*Read on if you are up for more*---


   Come along to our next squattastic meeting – you don't need to be
   squatting right now to participate! Next one on Sunday 7th August, at 2pm at
   Caracol in Greenwich – check the squattastic website or call 07757 009150 on
   Friday 5th for details of the venue. Come and resist criminalisation of
   LEGAL squatting.


   Or find out what is happening in your area. No local group? Why not work
   with your network and start one?


   Once you know what is happening, think about joining up with others
   either on one of the working groups or by participating in planned actions.


   Or you might want to plan an action or campaign within your own network
   and community and it would be good if you let us know if you do. Keep in
   touch – and put out calls for help if you need it.


   Offer your help – use squattastic meetings and email list to offer your
   skills, resources and time.


   Share anything you produce so that we are not duplicating effort – again
   use the squattastic networks as well as the independent media and your own

   If you are squatting right now, fill in a research questionnaire.
   squattastic is participating in some research to try to generate more
   reliable data. Since the government say that one of the purposes of the
   consultation is to generate data on squatting it is important that we get
   lots of responses so that we can counter with our own reliable facts. Check
   squattastic website for details.


   Send any horror stories on illegal evictions, unscrupulous landlords and
   developer or property speculator malpractice to Caracol via squattastic. We
   are looking at the possibility of mounting an Option 6 campaign – with a
   focus on the real problem, the 725,000 homes that were standing empty in


   Donate what you can afford to the campaign – we owe the printer!

 ---*Some Facts*---

 *725,000* Empty homes in England in 2009 (

*500,000* Crisis estimate of homeless in England in 2010 (Sheffield Hallam
research for Crisis)

*300,000* Government estimate long term empty homes in England (

*50,000* living in ‘temporary’ accommodation in England (

*42,000* households officially homeless in England (

*40,000* more households may become homeless due to welfare reforms (

*20,000* Government estimate of the number of squatters in UK (consultation
document - but no research cited in support of this figure)

*1,400* Landlords petitioned Government for a change in the law (

*531* ordinary possession orders granted in 2010 (and these include land as
well as property trespass orders) - (Consultation document)

*216* interim possession orders granted in 2010 - (Consultation document)

*25* cases of squatting prosecuted in Scotland in last 10 years TOTAL
(squatting is an offence in Scotland) (Graeme Brown, Shelter Scotland)

 *£38,000* Cost per year of housing a prisoner

*£20,000* Cost per year of housing a family claiming maximum Housing Benefit
(Capped at £400 per week for a 4 bedroomed dwelling)

*£0* cost per year of housing a squatter


 *Squash Campaign*


 *Government consultation document*: Options on dealing with squatting

 *A very thorough analysis*:

 *Independent Media/Information Networks*
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