Tuesday, 02 September 2014

Government to set up 'beds in sheds' task force

Government plans to tackle ‘beds in sheds’ have been unveiled.

Housing minister Grant Shapps and immigration minister Damian Green will launch a cross-Whitehall task force dedicated to tackling the issue today.

The ministers will discuss the problem of sheds and outbuildings being rented out illegally – often to migrants - with police, immigration and council officials. They plan to act against criminal landlords and remove illegal immigrants.

Living conditions in the sheds are often squalid and high rents are charged.

The government’s proposals include:

  • encouraging councils to make greater use of legal powers across planning, fire safety, housing and environmental health
  • measuring the extent and nature of the problem, drawing on information collected by central government and councils
  • ensuring councils and the police share available intelligence
  • closer working with foreign authorities to help those wanting to return home
  • steps to prevent more ‘beds in sheds’ from being created.

Mr Grant Shapps said: ‘It is a scandal that these back garden slums exist to exploit people, many of whom are prepared to return voluntarily to their home country but instead find themselves trapped into paying extortionate rents to live in these cramped conditions. I want to see a crackdown on these criminal landlords.’

Mr Green said: ‘Those with no right to be in the UK must leave the country. If they volunteer to leave, we will help. If they refuse, we will enforce their removal.’

Last month communities secretary Eric Pickles accused councils of lacking the ‘willpower’ to tackle the problem. Responding to a question in parliament, Mr Pickles said there were sufficient powers to address the problem but councils were not dealing with it adequately.

Housing minister Grant Shapps met with local authorities to discuss the issue.

Readers' comments (17)

  • This will be great! But I doubt the Local Authority can tackle this with the current cuts. You need to have Planning Officers out visiting the areas 7days a week, therefore the LA need to employ more officers to do the street beat. This can create more employment for planning graduates.

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  • Rick Campbell

    There will be those 'experts' who may wish to rub their hands with glee at the government wanting to turf people out of sheds -- some may feel that it is an unwritten policy of government to force thousands upon thousands of people into living in sheds.

    I presuppose that many of those turfed out may not be ingegenous but feel that many could be teetering on being indigent.

    All the above, as with most of my postings, are simply the opinions of a simple tenant - an opinion based on emotions, beliefs, caring for others and not the statistical'scientific proof oft demanded by some!

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  • Chris

    I'm sure Shapps's main concern is that neither he nor his mates are getting a cut from this housing business, unlike the rest of the dergulated private sector.

    The marketisation of housing over the past three generations, and the deliberate creation of housing supply to make that market profitable is directly the cause of this problem. Obviously reversing the past years of failure is a pointer towards a solution!

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  • "Living conditions in the sheds are often squalid and high rents are charged". - A comment that is not solely confined to shed living, but can be aimed at other sections of the rented housing sector.

    "steps to prevent more ‘beds in sheds’ from being created". - Cameron, Shapps and Co are among the main contributors to the problem. In any event I reckon none of the 'task force' and partners have the gumption or skill to achieve a practical solution to the very serious long running issue.

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  • Chris

    Absolutely Sertaom Yek, indeed thier stance on this issue contradicts their aim to remove people who receive benefits from areas where 'working people' can not afford to live (you'd think they would know about the large and growing proportion of people who's pay has been cut to such a low level that they are dependent on benefit!); and contradicts their call for anyone with more than a room to call their own to be punished; and contradicts their call for anyone that they consider undeserving to be denied fire, water and shelter within the boundaries of the kingdom.

    Yes, our leadership are causing these problems, and it appears in order to justify even greater draconian measures as a result. Perhaps the edict to kill the first born will soon follow, as the 'only way' to address the housing supply problem!

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  • Rick Campbell

    On the human side of this article --

    The suggestion is that there will be some illegal immigrants found -- would I be right that there will be deportations?

    If only some are illegal immigrants them others may be either/or legal imigrants/indigineous homemakers -- where will they be housed (if indeed the intention is to house them at all)? Stoke? Newham? Kensington? Shapps's office on a camp bed?

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  • Rick Campbell

    The government aren't looking to site some missile in these sites where the sheds are located, are they?

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  • Having once been homeless with a very young child myself, and society supposedly having progressed since then, rather than Grant Schapps and Damien !! Green 'tackling this issue' - which I presume means moving them out onto the streets, have they ensured adequate housing is available for those they are turfing out who qualify BEFORE putting them on the streets. In my desparate time, a bed in a shed is far better than cold and wet on the streets, and of course where 'criminal landlords' are blamed, what about 'criminal politicians and governments' who fail to provide adequate housing for those in need who qualify - these situations would not exist if government fulfilled its legal duties and responsibilities to society, and in truth I expect less than 50% of those found living in these conditions will be illegal immigrants, merely homeless people many of whom will be suffering mental illness or addiction and need help.

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  • Very sadly , New labour have allowed around 2 million new people
    to enter and live in the country in the past 10 years ,and
    this has created a severe pressure on all aspects of
    social services , especially in poorer areas and particularly
    over all aspects of housing provision.

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  • Even more sadly in this Age of Information too many people believe the crap they rwead in the papers

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