SQUASH has collected and analysed information regarding the current housing crisis, empty properties and squatting in order to assess the financial implications of criminalising squatting in England and Wales, through Clause 145 (previously 136) of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.
Can We Afford to Criminalise Squatting? shows that the cost of criminalising squatting could reach £790 million in the first 5 years.
This would more than wipe out the £350m savings intended to be made by the Legal Aid Bill it comes in.
The report’s findings present a significant challenge to the proposed clause, which could effectively criminalise squatting in England and Wales.
It is clear that the government is yet to examine the Clause’s financial implications in any serious detail.
Given the magnitude of the financial implications that would arise from enacting the Clause we would expect responsible law makers to ensure that no change to the current law be enacted until its costs are sufficiently accounted for.
In addition to this report, a number of amendments to the Bill have been submitted. Those amendments relevant to the content of this report are attached in the appendix.