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Where they lay their heads is home: Squatters often act not out of necessity, but as an anti-capitalist protest

Among the little noticed achievements of this government is a long overdue reform to make squatting a criminal offence in England and Wales (it has been one in Scotland since 1865). This change, which became law last year, is largely thanks to the efforts of Mike Weatherley, Conservative MP for Hove. His determination shows that a backbench MP can make a difference.

Yet the reform has not been implemented in full. For no very clear reason it only applies to residential buildings. This means that squatting remains merely a civil offence when other buildings are targeted.

Some try to justify squatting on the grounds that squatters have no alternative. But those who are working could pay rent while those on low pay or unemployed would be eligible for housing benefit. In any case, what basis can there be of taking something from somebody else on the basis that they have it and you want it? Would that principle be applied to stealing food or a car?

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