Its Grant’s Beds in Sheds Gang – are England’s ‘shanty towns’ minister admits

BBC News sloppily releasing a pre-embargo brefing without editing

The government is setting up a task force to tackle “beds in sheds” by acting against criminal landlords and removing illegal immigrants.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Immigration Minister Damian Green will discuss the problem later with police, immigration and council officials.

Thousands of sheds and outbuildings are rented out illegally, say ministers.

Those who live in them are often migrants who put up with high rents and primitive conditions.

Mr Shapps and Mr Green will raise several proposals, including:

  • 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 Whitehall and Town Halls
  • 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 Shapps will say: “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 will say: “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.”

We covered how to stop this in the bud here last month.

The DCLG press release is here  

A new national taskforce will be set up to tackle the issue of “beds in sheds” by taking action against criminal landlords and removing illegal immigrants.

On Monday (30 April), Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Immigration Minister Damian Green will hold the first in a series of cross-Whitehall summits with representatives from the police, the UK Border Agency and local government.

The meetings will find ways to close down thousands of sheds and outbuildings being rented out illegally to migrants, including some with no right to be in the UK.

These ‘tenants’ are being exploited by ruthless landlords who charge them extortionate rents to live in cramped conditions.

These modern day shanty towns, often visible on websites such as Google Earth, can be plagued with rats and cockroaches – and are potential death traps with dodgy wiring and poor sanitation.

Some foreign ‘tenants’ wish to return home but, after destroying their passports to avoid removal, find it difficult to do so quickly.

However I fear even a raid on a single street in Slough, Southall or Bristol would fill up an entire immigration detention centre and keep half a dozen enforcement officers for a year – which LPAs have no funding for.

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