Gypsy sites ‘should be central part of tackling housing crisis’, says CIH report

Terrie Alafat
Terrie Alafat

Providing Gypsy and Traveller sites should be made a central part of tackling the UK’s housing crisis, according to a new report.

Managing and delivering Gypsy and Traveller sites: negotiating conflict, published yesterday by CIH on behalf of JRF and De Montfort University, argues that more must be done to ensure Gypsies and Travellers have access to sites and that providing attractive sites is cost-effective and should be an essential part of housing provision.

The report, launched at the House of Lords on Monday, was put together by Professor Jo Richardson, director of the centre for comparative housing research at De Montfort University and Janie Codona MBE, a former member of the government taskforce on enforcement and accommodation for Gypsy and Travellers.

There are as many as 300,000 gypsies and travellers in Britain and the report argues inequalities in the way they are treated in the UK must be tackled and that the provision of appropriate and well-managed sites is an ‘essential first step’. It makes 12 key recommendations on how the current lack of sites can be addressed.

More than 120 Gypsy and Traveller residents across the UK and nearly 100 professionals were interviewed between 2014 and 2016 as part of the research.

Terrie Alafat CBE, CIH chief executive, said: “This robust report shines a crucial light on the scale of the issue facing many thousands of Gypsies and Travellers across the UK.

“At the moment many people in those communities are effectively homeless and addressing this must be a key part of our efforts to tackle the housing crisis.”

Among the report’s recommendations are:

  • It must be recognised that the lack of appropriate sites is a key cause of continuous unauthorised encampments
  • Local authorities should consider negotiating with Gypsies and Travellers on unauthorised encampments rather than automatically evicting as this can result in a fairer and more cost-effective outcome
  • A robust assessment should be completed to properly assess population trends and need for new sites
  • Sites should be identified in local plans and Gypsies and Travellers should be consulted on their location
  • Gypsy and traveller sites should be brought in line with general needs housing stock in terms of policy, administration and standards of management
  • It should be recognised that a well-run site will not cost money in the long term but capital funding is needed to support its initial delivery
  • Information sharing between departments and agencies should be commonplace – in some areas a lack of clarity on policy and procedure and lack of communication led to problems and inefficiencies.
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