ADD2277 London Gypsies and Travellers - Negotiated Stopping Research

Type of decision: 
Assistant Director's decision
Code: 
ADD2277
Date signed: 
08 October 2018
Decision by: 
Jamie Ratcliff, Assistant Director, Housing

Executive summary

The Mayor is committed to providing homes in London that meet the diverse housing needs of Londoners and this includes working to ensure the accommodation needs of the Gypsy and Traveller community are met. This decision form seeks the approval of funding to conduct research to support the development of a proposal for introducing negotiated stopping in London, which should help to manage unauthorised developments and encampments in the capital.

Decision

That the Assistant Director - Housing approves:

Expenditure of up to £30,000 to fund research by London Gypsies and Travellers and De Montfort University to develop a proposal for introducing negotiated stopping in London.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background
    1. The London Housing Strategy encourages councils to actively plan for the accommodation requirements of London’s Gypsy and Traveller community, both through the development of permanent sites and the refurbishment of existing sites. The Mayor is providing grant funding through his Affordable Homes Programme to support the remodelling of sites or the building of new sites.   
    2. The draft London Plan sets out how boroughs should plan to meet the identified need for permanent Gypsy and Traveller pitches, by carrying out needs assessments based on a new definition of Gypsies and Travellers and addressing issues identified when audits are undertaken of existing pitches and sites.
    3. Unauthorised developments and encampments can often be a result of the lack of permanent sites and pitches for the Gypsy and Traveller community to live on. The repeal of the 1968 Caravan Sites Act in 1994 resulted in local authorities no longer being required to build council sites, and this change led to a reduction in the number of pitches in the capital.
    4. GLA officers have been working with London Gypsies and Travellers to identify how a negotiated stopping approach could be implemented in London, as a way of minimising the occurrences of unauthorised encampments and the resultant negative impacts that these can have on Gypsy and Traveller communities and local residents. This would build on the approach developed by Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange (GATE), which has been found to save the local authority and police up to £230,000 annually and promote community cohesion.
    5. The negotiated stopping approach allows an agreement to be reached between a local authority and Gypsies and Travellers who encamp on a site that is not authorised for that purpose. The agreement outlines the terms on which they may stay on a particular piece of land for a defined time period, without being evicted by the local authority. During this agreed time the local authority provides basic temporary facilities such as rubbish disposal, skips and portaloos. Negotiated stopping places do not require planning permission.
    6. The research proposal, developed jointly by London Gypsies and Travellers (LGT) and De Montfort University (Appendix 1) builds upon discussions between GLA officers and LGT exploring negotiated stopping as an approach to minimise the occurrences of unauthorised developments and encampments in London. The first part of the research will involve work to understand the current context of unauthorised developments and encampments in London (i.e. who is involved in reporting and enforcing against them, who currently supports the community when they are living on the encampments and what is the experience of those living on these sites) and map out the key contacts and networks that need to be engaged in any future work in this area. This work would involve:
      • Interviewing Gypsy and Traveller families for their views on the negotiated stopping approach as part of initial research
      • Conducting desk-based research into what procedures and processes London boroughs currently have in dealing with unauthorised encampments
      • Conducting in-depth interviews with a number of local authorities to obtain an understanding of the challenges faced with unauthorised encampments at the local level

 

  1. The second part of the research would involve developing a proposal for how to take forward negotiated stopping in London, taking into account the results of the first half of the work.

 

  1. The research is estimated to cost £28,465. Full details are available in Appendix 1, but below is an overview of how the costs will be split between the two partners:  

Partner and activity 

Cost

London Gypsies and Travellers

(Overall project management, initial interviews with gypsy and traveller families, research scoping and developing pilot proposal)

£10,800

De Montfort University

(Research project management, research analysis, research assistants)

£17,665

Objectives and expected outcomes

The objectives of the research are as follows:

• To map out stakeholders and infrastructure involved in managing unauthorised encampments across London boroughs
• To understand the facilitators and barriers for implementing negotiated stopping in different contexts
• To develop relationships leading to political buy-in from local authorities for a negotiated stopping funding stream.

The expected outcomes of the research are as follows:

• A database of contacts across London Boroughs, Metropolitan Police Service and elected representatives involved in unauthorised encampment management
• A report outlining the findings of the research and setting out recommendations for ways forward to implement negotiated stopping in London
• Options for a London Negotiated Stopping Pilot including: scope and time frame; geographical extent; estimated costs and job descriptions for the new roles

Overall, the aim of the research is to understand the conditions that would make the introduction of a negotiated stopping approach successful in London. The outcome will provide a robust evidence base to support the development of the next steps for any negotiated stopping approach. Options for implementing any new approach, including funding, would need to be considered by the GLA and relevant partners.

Equality comments

There is a chronic shortage of affordable housing in London and those with protected characteristics are more likely to disproportionately suffer as a result of this shortage. The London Housing Strategy Impact Assessment acknowledges Londoners with a range of protected characteristics require specific housing needs and that the Gypsy and Traveller community can face particularly acute difficulties securing accommodation that meets their needs.

The Gypsy and Traveller community stand to benefit from the outcomes of this research which supports the provision of meeting their accommodation needs, encouraging London boroughs to engage with more approaches that will bring positive outcomes for Gypsies and Travellers, as well as helping to improve relations between Gypsies and Travellers and other Londoners.

Other considerations

a) Key risks and issues

The key risk associated with this decision is that the research is not delivered by London Gypsies and Travellers and De Montfort University. This risk will be mitigated through a grant agreement and robust monitoring between the GLA and London Gypsies and Travellers to ensure that appropriate progress is made, and poor performance is identified and rectified quickly. An initiation meeting will be held with London Gypsies and Travellers and De Montfort University, followed with bi-monthly meetings to update on progress. This key risk will also be managed through staged payments, whereby 80 per cent of the funding will be released at the start of the research and 20 per cent once the research is completed and a report of findings is produced.

b) Links to the mayoral strategies and priorities

Policy H16 of the Mayor’s draft new London Plan sets out requirements for boroughs to assess and plan for the accommodation needs of the Gypsy and Traveller community

Policy 5.2, proposal A3 of the Mayor’s London Housing Strategy states “The Mayor will work with councils, housing associations, Government and others to ensure that London’s homes and neighbourhoods support London’s diverse housing needs… [including] working with the Gypsy and Traveller community to ensure their housing needs are met”.

c) Consultations and impact assessments

The expected outcomes of this work would not be subject to a formal consultation but key stakeholders, including the Gypsy and Traveller community and local authorities, would be consulted with as part of the research.

Financial comments

This decision seeks approval for expenditure of up to £30,000 to fund research to inform a pilot project on negotiated stopping as an approach to manage unauthorised developments and encampments in London.

The expenditure will be funded from the Housing and Land Management and Consultancy budget with approximately £22,772 (80%) to be spent in 2018/19 and £5,693 (20%) in 2019/20 financial years.

Activity table

Activity

Timeline

Project initiation meeting (with bi-monthly monitoring meetings thereafter)

October 2018

Interviews with Gypsy and Traveller families

October 2018

Research scoping and design

November 2018

Desk-based research of all London boroughs

December 2018-

January 2019

In depth interviews with a sample of London boroughs

February 2019-

April 2019

Analysis of research findings

May 2019

Report of findings and final negotiated stopping proposal

June 2019