Response - Gangmasters Licensing Authority Licensing Standards
By: Elizabeth O'Hara Published: October 2008
As a housing and homelessness organisation, we have been particularly concerned at the growing body of evidence which documents both the poor housing conditions of migrant workers and the increase in destitution among this group. We have recently published a discussion paper on this subject, No place like home? Addressing the issues of housing and migration, which is available on this website. According to recent research, new migrants have little choice over the type and location of the housing they live in during their early years of settlement. Their circumstances are dominated by constraining factors and often bear little relation to the settlement patterns of long-standing residents. The housing experience of many new migrants is characterised by instability.
- Shelter agrees that the proposed interpretation of ‘effectively providing’, taken from BERR’s guidance, should be incorporated into the revised standards.
- Shelter agrees that standard 4.3 should be amended to better reflect the requirements of the Gas Safety Regulations 1994.
- Shelter recommends altering the scoring system so that major non-compliances score 15 points each and both reportable and correctable non-compliances are counted in the licence-holder’s ultimate score.
- Shelter recommends that Licensing Standard 2 should be preserved as a ‘critical’ standard to adhere to, and that gangmasters failing to pay at least the minimum wage, taking into account accommodation charges, should have their licences revoked. In addition, a failure to provide accurate payslips should be a critical breach of the licensing standards.
- Shelter supports Licensing Standard 4 warranting an automatic revocation of the GLA licence where there is evidence of poor or overcrowded housing conditions, or a failure to conform with local housing regulations on HMOs. Such failures should continue to warrant the maximum score.
- Shelter believes that the standards should continue to insist that gangmasters pay the minimum wage, taking into account the accommodation offset. There should be no relaxation of the rules relating to the maximum offset allowed.
- Shelter believes that the remit of the GLA should be extended to cover all sectors employing high levels of migrant workers are employed, specifically construction, cleaning and hospitality.
- Shelter believes that the test applied during a GLA inspection should require a gangmaster to show evidence that, where accommodation is provided, tenancy/ licence agreements have been provided to the worker.
- Shelter would like to see a statutory framework for closer joint working between the GLA and local authorities, to assist in the process of selective licensing where abuses are suspected or identified.