Since 2009, the NBTA has been lobbying the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) for the inclusion of Bargee Travellers in the statutory requirement of local authorities to assess the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers. Back in April 2009, the DCLG agreed that there was no reason why Bargee Travellers should not fall within the definition of ‘Traveller’ for the purposes of Section 225 of the Housing Act 2004, which required local authorities to assess the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers. Over the last seven years the NBTA has highlighted the policy vacuum at both central and local government level regarding itinerant boat dwellers.
The Housing and Planning Act 2016 addresses this policy vacuum for the first time in Section 124. This states that local housing authorities in England must, in their periodical reviews of housing need, consider the needs of people “residing in or resorting to their district with respect to the provision of… places on inland waterways where houseboats can be moored”.
This is a significant step forward for Bargee Travellers, bringing them into the orbit of the accommodation needs assessments relating to land-based travellers for the first time and going part of the way to fill the policy vacuum. Unfortunately the provisions of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 are detrimental to the vast majority of people, especially Gypsies and Travellers and people needing or currently housed in social housing. The effect of the Act will dismantle social housing provision, force many Gypsies and Travellers who live on permanent sites back onto the road, and extend the private rented sector and owner occupied housing, benefiting landlords and property owners. There is a continuing campaign against the 2016 Act involving groups such as the Radical Housing Network, Friends, Families and Travellers, the Traveller Movement and Defend Council Housing. The NBTA is a member of the Radical Housing Network and supports the campaign to repeal the Housing and Planning Act 2016.
Section 124 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 states:
124 Assessment of accommodation needs
(1)In section 8 of the Housing Act 1985 (periodical review of housing needs), after subsection (2) insert—
“(3)In the case of a local housing authority in England, the duty under subsection (1) includes a duty to consider the needs of people residing in or resorting to their district with respect to the provision of—
(a)sites on which caravans can be stationed, or
(b)places on inland waterways where houseboats can be moored.
(4)In subsection (3)—
“caravan” has the meaning given by section 29 of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960;
“houseboat” means a boat or similar structure designed or adapted for use as a place to live.”
(2)In the Housing Act 2004 omit sections 225 and 226 (accommodation needs of gypsies and travellers).
The DCLG has produced this draft guidance to local housing authorities on the periodical review of housing needs regarding caravans and Houseboats Housing and Planning Act 2016 draft guidance periodical review of housing needs
The NBTA has submitted these comments to the DCLG regarding the draft guidance NBTA comments on draft guidance S124 Housing and Planning Act
You can read the DCLG’s letter of April 2009 to the NBTA here DCLG letter to NBTA April 09
These links provide an assessment of the adverse impact of most of the provisions in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and information about the continuing campaign for its repeal.