On 13th of July 2011, the government published a consultation paper:"Options for dealing with Squatting". The consultation period ends on 5th October 2011 so **we need to act NOW to be heard** The proposals outlined would affect a much wider community than those who identify as squatters; - tenants would be at risk from unscrupulous landlords, - worker and student occupations would be illegal – as would peace and climate camps. - Police discretion is considered as a way of determining who is or is not a squatter – - violent and forcible eviction of squatters would be legal - Anyone who used a squatted social centre or venue could be labelled a squatter, regardless of whether they actually lived there.
- And this is the last of our ancestral rights to go. For hundreds of years, we have had the right to live in abandoned buildings. Just as the government took away our land and rights to use common land in the past, now they are attacking our right to shelter. In 2009 there were 725,000 empty homes – the government estimate the number of squatters in England and Wales at 20,000: squatting is not the problem, it is part of the solution. We have a problem fighting this. The consultation paper pretends to be speaking for the normal, respectable person although it is clear enough that the interests being promoted are those of big developers and property speculators. The negative images of squatters spread in the media in recent months make it hard for us to convince people that this is not a 'squatter' consultation but an attack on the human right to shelter that will impact most heavily on the most vulnerable people in society. These are standard divide and rule tactics. * * *How you can help* *--* - Please understand that this is not just about squatters and parties and 'it was nice while it lasted'. - Pass this mail on; convince everyone in your network and get them to pass it on too. - The government published this consultation paper over the summer, we believe calculating that our resistance would be lowest, when many of us are travelling or partying. Let's exploit this and spread the word at every festival, gathering, gig and event; talk to people, tell them what is happening, take some leaflets or posters to display. - Many of you musicians and creatives have squatted – now we need you to put something back, exploit your networks and get the word out. Please. - Have a look at http://www.squashcampaign.org/ and http://squattastic.blogspot.com/ for an idea of what is happening and to get hold of flyers and posters. If you want to find out more or read the consultation paper, there are a few links at the end. - Respond to the consultation document; we need as large a quantity of responses from individuals as we can – and they don't need to be hugely detailed as the chances of them ever being read are low - but they will be counted. - If you represent an interested organisation or constituency, your response has a slightly greater chance of being read and so it may be worth setting out quality arguments. Check the Squash website at the beginning of August for guidance on writing responses and details of online petitions. If you have time to do any or all of this, that is fine, and thank you – it will have a massive impact if enough of us do what we can. ---*Read on if you are up for more*---
- Come along to our next squattastic meeting – you don't need to be squatting right now to participate! Next one on Sunday 7th August, at 2pm at Caracol in Greenwich – check the squattastic website or call 07757 009150 on Friday 5th for details of the venue. Come and resist criminalisation of LEGAL squatting. - Or find out what is happening in your area. No local group? Why not work with your network and start one? - Once you know what is happening, think about joining up with others either on one of the working groups or by participating in planned actions. - Or you might want to plan an action or campaign within your own network and community and it would be good if you let us know if you do. Keep in touch – and put out calls for help if you need it. - Offer your help – use squattastic meetings and email list to offer your skills, resources and time. - Share anything you produce so that we are not duplicating effort – again use the squattastic networks as well as the independent media and your own contacts. - If you are squatting right now, fill in a research questionnaire. squattastic is participating in some research to try to generate more reliable data. Since the government say that one of the purposes of the consultation is to generate data on squatting it is important that we get lots of responses so that we can counter with our own reliable facts. Check squattastic website for details. - Send any horror stories on illegal evictions, unscrupulous landlords and developer or property speculator malpractice to Caracol via squattastic. We are looking at the possibility of mounting an Option 6 campaign – with a focus on the real problem, the 725,000 homes that were standing empty in 2009. - Donate what you can afford to the campaign – we owe the printer! ---*Some Facts*--- *725,000* Empty homes in England in 2009 ( http://www.emptyhomes.com/usefulresources/stats/statistics.html) *500,000* Crisis estimate of homeless in England in 2010 (Sheffield Hallam research for Crisis) *300,000* Government estimate long term empty homes in England ( http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/newsroom/1903733) *50,000* living in ‘temporary’ accommodation in England ( http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/55729197) *42,000* households officially homeless in England ( http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/55729197) *40,000* more households may become homeless due to welfare reforms ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jul/02/eric-pickles-david-cameron-40000-homeless ) *20,000* Government estimate of the number of squatters in UK (consultation document - but no research cited in support of this figure) *1,400* Landlords petitioned Government for a change in the law ( http://www.justdoproperty.co.uk/letting-your-property/landlord-action-deliver-petition-5071 ) *531* ordinary possession orders granted in 2010 (and these include land as well as property trespass orders) - (Consultation document) *216* interim possession orders granted in 2010 - (Consultation document) *25* cases of squatting prosecuted in Scotland in last 10 years TOTAL (squatting is an offence in Scotland) (Graeme Brown, Shelter Scotland) *£38,000* Cost per year of housing a prisoner *£20,000* Cost per year of housing a family claiming maximum Housing Benefit (Capped at £400 per week for a 4 bedroomed dwelling) *£0* cost per year of housing a squatter ---*Links*--- *Squash Campaign* http://www.squashcampaign.org/ *squattastic* http://squattastic.blogspot.com/ *Government consultation document*: Options on dealing with squatting http://www.justice.gov.uk/consultations/dealing-with-squatters.htm *A very thorough analysis*: http://london.indymedia.org/articles/9566 *Independent Media/Information Networks* http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/ http://www.schnews.org.uk/ http://www.undercurrents.org/ http://www.squatter.org.uk/ http://www.squat.net/ http://riseupeast.wordpress.com/