May 26 2013 Latest news:
John Phillips , Senior Reporter
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
MPs have urged the government to stimulate the economy and tackle homelessness to deal with squatting in Barking and Dagenham.
They spoke out after figures showed landlords had applied for an extra 870 home repossession orders at the two county courts that cover Barking and Dagenham between 2010 and 2011, making the area one of the biggest hotspots in the country.
The figures emerged as the government prepared to make squatting illegal with maximum prison terms of six months to be handed down to offenders.
But Margaret Hodge, the MP for Barking, said: “We have seen a real increase in homelessness in the borough and it is also more difficult to secure privately rented accommodation with spiralling rent costs, which are not helped by cuts to housing benefit introduced by the government.
“The government needs to stimulate more house building and invest in the economy if we are to turn the tide.”
Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas added: “When it comes to issues around squatting, what needs to happen is for the government to actually tackle the issues of homelessness rather than waiting and tackling the secondary problems that come from it.”
Figures collated by the AA show that home repossession orders soared by 61 per cent at Romford County Court and 48 per cent at Ilford County Court.
The two courts process eviction notices for east London boroughs including Barking and Dagenham and have now merged.
Home repossession orders are issued to squatters as well as households that fall behind with rent and mortgage payments.
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