Thousands of sheds and outbuildings are rented out illegally, say ministers. The illegal structures, some dangerous and cramped, are offered by private landlords, often to illegal immigrants. BBC's Chris Rogers investigation in February 2012 found 'beds in sheds' are London's modern day slums.
The first in a series of cross-Whitehall summits with representatives from the police, the UK Border Agency and local government is being held today.
The taskforce will discuss:
- encouraging councils to make greater use of legal powers across planning, fire safety, housing and environmental health
- how to better measure the extent and nature of the problem
- how best to ensure councils and the police share the intelligence available and enforcement activity
- closer working with organisations such as the Indian High Commission to help those wanting to return home
- steps to prevent more 'beds in shed' from being created.
The London Fire Brigade in January 2012 said there is emerging evidence of a growth in ad-hoc 'back garden developments' which see sheds and other unsuitable buildings being used as accommodation.