Lords defeated over amendments to squatting ban
Government plans to criminalise squatting are set to go ahead after last minute amendments to legislation were either withdrawn or voted down.
Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Miller had sought to introduce amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill that would have meant squatting is not illegal if a property has been empty for 12 months or more and is not subject to a current planning application.
Following a debate in the House of Lords on Wednesday night she agreed to withdraw the amendments. A further amendment that would have required further consultation with local authorities before the legislation was introduced was defeated by 107 votes to 26.
Homelessness charity Crisis said it was ‘disappointed’ that the government was going ahead with the plans to criminalise squatting, but welcomed the increased recognition of the link between homelessness and squatting that emerged during the debate.
Duncan Shrubsole, director of policy and external affairs at the charity, said: ‘We will be making the case clearly that any use of these new measures must be done sensitively and combined with providing real assistance and support to any homeless people affected, particularly with homelessness rising across the country.
‘Ultimately the best way to end squatting will not be through fines and criminal sanction but by ensuring all homeless people, not just those deemed in “priority need” get the help they need.’