Gypsies, Travellers and accommodation

Author(s): Margaret Greenfields;  

Briefing series: Better Housing Briefing Paper 10

Publisher: Race Equality Foundation

Publication date: January 2009

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Gypsies, Travellers and accommodation
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This paper  examines  the  accommodation  needs  and  experiences  of Gypsy-Travellers. Highlighting in particular the lack of suitable sites for Gypsy-Travellers,  the briefing also draws attention to the widespread failure of Local Authorities to target Gypsy-Travellers in public service provision, including homelessness strategies. The briefing also focuses on the health impact of unsuitable accommodation for Gypsy-Travellers, with many individuals experiencing high levels of anxiety and depression, whether because of racist abuse, threats and discrimination, or due to pressure to live in unsuitable ‘bricks-and-mortar’ housing.

Key messages:

  • Ensuring access to appropriate accommodation is key to engaging with the diverse inequalities and barriers to service provision experienced by Gypsies and Travellers
  • One in four Gypsies and Travellers living in caravans does not have a legal place on which to park their home. They are thus, in law, homeless
  • Gypsies and Irish Travellers live in or pass through 91 per cent of local authority areas in England and Wales, but in 2003 over 70 per cent of local authorities did not refer to Gypsies or Travellers within their Homelessness Strategies
  • The great majority of applications for Gypsy sites are refused at first hearing, often following orchestrated campaigns by local residents, leading to community tensions
  • Recent multi-agency policy drives are beginning to have an impact on addressing site shortages, although the majority of new pitches are on 'private sites' funded by owner-occupiers
  • Those Gypsies and Travellers who reluctantly resort to living in housing, in the absence of site provision, experience excessively high levels of anxiety and depression. They are frequently victims of racist abuse, threats and discrimination and experience cultural trauma.

Sections:

  • Ensuring access to appropriate accommodation is key
  • One in four Gypsies and Travellers living in caravans is, by law, homeless
  • Absence from local authority Homelessness Strategies
  • Refusal, hostility and tension
  • Recent multi-agency policy drives are beginning to impact
  • The human costs of enforced residence in housing