Extensions to the Squatting Law will cost taxpayer 790million pounds
It is currently a Criminal Offence to squat in a property that is owned however, the new proposals made by the Government will extend the Squatting Law to make occupying a vacant property illegal as well.
This extension of the law could cost twenty times more then official estimates expected and could wipe out the savings that should have been made from the changes to the Legal Aid financial plan according to findings in the report published on the 16th March by SQUASH. SQUASH (Squatters’ Action for Secure Homes) are a campaign group that opposes further criminalisation of squatting.
The bill to criminalise squatting in England and Wales could run from £316.2million to £790.4million over the next five years. In comparison, the savings that were supposed to be made from the Legal Aid budget only calculate to £350million. The consideration of the changes to the squatting law come when there has been an 18% rise in the amount of homeless people in England compared to the same quarter last year.
SQUASH have said that squatters in vacant properties save the Government £36million to £90million per year in benefits as they can’t claim if there are living in a property. The Criminal Justice System’s costs will rise into millions if the extension to the squatting law goes ahead as landlords who wish to evict a squatter will pay a visit to the Police station rather than a Solicitor’s office to take action.
Baroness Sue Miller who was the former Lib Dem home affairs and environment spokeswoman told the Guardian, ‘The Government should spend their energy and resources actually tackling homelessness. Their proposal to criminalise the homeless who seek shelter in an empty building comes with a hefty price tag running into millions, which is ironic when this bill is all about trying to make savings. The homeless will suffer further, homeowners will get no more protection than they have now and derelict empty properties will stay that way.’
You can read the full report by SQUASH, ‘Can We Afford To Criminalise Squatting?’ HERE
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