London |Housing Gp: Squatting ban 'disastrous' threat to homeless

Tony Gosling tony at
Thu Dec 5 13:50:41 GMT 2013

Squatting ban 'disastrous' threat to homeless


    * <>The Guardian, Monday 2 
December 2013 21.00 GMT

Winter is a difficult time for the UK's homeless population 
29 November). We are concerned at both the effect of existing 
legislation, which has made 
<>squatting in 
residential properties a criminal offence, and the proposals being 
made by some within the government to extend the law to encompass 
commercial properties. We fear that any further criminalisation which 
removes the option of seeking shelter in abandoned and unused 
commercial property would have disastrous consequences. We wish to 
remind the government of the tragic death of one homeless person 
already this year. Daniel Gauntlett died from exposure after police 
prevented him from entering a derelict house. At the very least, a 
thorough impact assessment should be undertaken in conjunction with 
homeless charities before any further legislation is even considered.

There are record numbers of people in temporary accommodation. Street 
homeless figures have skyrocketed in recent months and the full 
extent of the bedroom tax and welfare cuts are yet to be felt. 
Austerity measures have slashed vital funding to homeless services, 
which are already operating at full stretch. Removing the option of 
squatting in abandoned commercial spaces would be a further blow to 
an already marginalised and at-risk segment of society. As the 
weather worsens, the risks street homeless people face are greater. 
The government must take the very real link between squatting 
and  <>homelessness 
into consideration.

Alastair Murray <>Housing Justice
Bob Baker, Director Simon Community
Sarah Morris Housing Action Southwark & Lambeth
Jenny Hemmings Haringey Solidarity Group
Matt Kershaw Squatters Action for Secure Homes
Kate Hoey MP Labour, Vauxhall
Jeremy Corbyn MP Labour, Islington North
John McDonnell MP Labour, Hayes & Harlington
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