Sunday, 30 August 2015

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.

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