To ask the Secretary of State for Justice
(1) what factors he plans to take into account in deciding when the squatting provisions of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 will be enacted;
(2) if he will estimate the total cost to the taxpayer of squatters in (a) social housing and (b) council-owned buildings in each of the last five years.
We intend to commence the offence as soon as reasonably practicable, but we want to ensure that guidance for the enforcement authorities is in place prior to commencement. We are also working with local authorities and homelessness organisations to increase awareness of the new provision and to prepare them for commencement.
We do not routinely collect data on the costs to the taxpayer arising from the unauthorised occupation of social housing or council-owned buildings. However responses to the consultation on ‘Options for Dealing with Squatting’ showed that local authorities can incur costs in evicting squatters and repairing any damage they have left behind. Squatting in social housing can also delay local authorities making homes available for those deemed to be in priority need.