Headlines: May 8th, 2012

A new national taskforce is being set up to tackle the issue of immigrants living in sheds and outhouses. The taskforce will include police, the UK Border Agency, local councils and HM Revenue and Customs.

The job of the taskforce will be to close down thousands of sheds and outbuildings being rented out illegally to migrants, including some with no right to be in the UK. These ‘tenants’ are being exploited by ruthless landlords who charge them extortionate rents to live in cramped conditions.

These modern day shanty towns, often visible on websites such as Google Earth, can be plagued with rats and cockroaches, and are potential death traps with dodgy wiring and poor sanitation. Some foreign ‘tenants’ wish to return home but, after destroying their passports to avoid removal, find it difficult to do so quickly.

Councils will also be encouraged to make greater use of legal powers across planning, fire safety, housing and environmental health and get a better measurement of the extent and nature of the problem, drawing on information collected by Whitehall.

There will also be a greater sharing of information between councils and the police to support enforcement activity. In addition there will be closer working with organisations such as the Indian High Commission to help those wanting to return home.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: “Those with no right to be in the UK must leave the country. If they volunteer to leave, we will help. If they refuse, we will enforce their removal.

He added: “The UK Border Agency will do whatever is necessary, working with local authorities and the police, to clear up this problem and enforce our laws against those who are in the UK illegally and the employers who exploit them.”