Homeless EU migrants 'failed by London', charity claims

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Media captionTouring Tottenham's economic migrants' camp

London is "badly failing" homeless EU migrants, a charity has claimed.

Migrants' Rights Network said some people in insecure jobs on low wages, were surviving in the city by sleeping on open ground in unauthorised camps.

The charity said it was "regrettable" but it was "a feature of London life".

The Home Office said EU migrants in unauthorised camps could be deported, but the charity said the government had a responsibility to house these people and was misinterpreting the law.

Image caption Migrants have made their homes in derelict buildings near Ermine Road in Tottenham

A spokesman for the Home Office said: "It is unacceptable for anyone to come to the UK with the intention of sleeping rough or to beg on the streets to support themselves.

"Rough sleeping is an abuse of free movement rights and we will take action, where appropriate, against European Economic Area nationals who refuse to find alternative accommodation."

He said the Home Office worked closely with councils and homelessness outreach services to support vulnerable people but since May had reinterpreted the law to deport self-sufficient EEA workers if they were homeless.

Image caption Migrants' Rights Network director Don Flynn said economic migrants living in camps were not breaking any laws

Migrants Rights Network director Don Flynn said EU law on European Economic Area (EEA) residency rights only allowed two circumstances in which people from the EEA could be deprived of the right to free movement; if they were reliant on benefits, or if they had committed a serious public order offence in the UK.

He said: "These people are not in that position. They are working but they have been unable to find accommodation which they can rent."

"What we would like to see is local authorities right the way across London, along with the mayor, making greater representations for the housing needs of this group.

"London is basically badly failing to provide housing and more needs to be done," he continued.

Image caption 'Michael' said he had lived in the UK for 14 years to send money home to his daughter

"Michael" is a Polish builder who lives in an unauthorised camp near Ermine Road in Tottenham, north London.

He denied littering and said he had been living in the UK for 14 years, working as a builder and volunteering at a local church.

He claimed to own two houses in Poland and said he was working to send money home for his nine-year-old daughter.

He said: "There is no problem for me, this is my home now."

"This place here is the equivalent of a garden shed in Poland.

"I have two homes, back home [in Poland] but I just don't want to go back."

Image caption Reginald Seals lives in a house in Ermine Road and said no-one should have to live in the squalid conditions of the migrant camp
Image caption Neighbour Caterina Dipisa said she was so scared of the people living in the camp nearby that she was afraid to leave her house

Reginald Seals lives in a house further down Ermine Road and said: "Nobody should be living in this squalor.

"We should all have somewhere to live, some running water and heating."

A neighbour, Caterina Dipisa, has lived in her home for 19 years and said: " I don't want to open my door. I'm scared. Maybe they do nothing to me, but I'm scared."

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