Travellers: Coronavirus

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 30th June 2020.

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Photo of Christian Wakeford Christian Wakeford Conservative, Bury South

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that Traveller populations in the UK are relocated to (a) safe and (b) appropriate areas during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Christopher Pincher Christopher Pincher Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The Government is working hard to ensure all communities receive the support they need during this pandemic. It is for local authorities to determine how best to support vulnerable groups, in line with their public health responsibilities.

To enable compliance with COVID-19 public health guidance, access to basic amenities, including water, sanitation and waste disposal facilities is essential.

My Noble Friend, the Minister for Communities, wrote to local authorities to highlight the potential vulnerabilities of Gypsy & Traveller communities, noting that local authorities may conclude that some families may require alternative places to stop where access to essential facilities is provided or can be made temporarily available. A copy of the letter is available at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/882564/COVID-19_-_mitigating_impacts_on_gypsy___traveller_communities.pdf

Local authorities are best-placed to determine when it is appropriate to use their powers to evict unauthorised encampments under Sections 77 and 78 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (1994) during the pandemic. Unauthorised encampments can cause harm to the local environment, and the rights of settled residents must be respected.

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