"Exploitative" online advert sparks outrage

The "accommodation" offered in Leigh
The "accommodation" offered in Leigh
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An online advert posted on a Wigan community Facebook page has sparked controversy for offering "free accommodation" in return for security services.

The post, which appeared on numerous social media pages including "Leigh, Bolton, Wigan for sale, swap or giveaway", offered a six-month residency for someone willing to stay from 8pm to 8am each night in an empty room.

However, despite the tempting offer - one of the main downsides is that the "accommodation", a building on a construction site, has no electricity.

The post says: "In Leigh we are offering free accommodation only for nights to someone with strong reference and good character.

"Place is available for more than six months.

"You would have to bring all that you need to stay the premise at night time as the company won’t offer/provide any service.

"Please note there is no electricity at the moment but it’s not dark inside because of street lights.

"You are required to stay between 8pm and 8am. There is no catch, we will get free security until the place is ready and someone will get a free place to live (strictly night time).

"You won’t be allowed to bring anyone with you. If the criteria suits you, get in touch asap, we can arrange your stay straight away."

Jo Platt, MP for Leigh, has spoken out about the incident, branding it exploitative.

"Although not specifically stated, the advertisement is clearly aimed at someone who may find themselves homeless," she said. "Exploiting a person’s circumstances in order to get a free security guard is contemptible.

"Nobody should be forced to live in conditions like this and I will be forwarding this specific post onto GMP."

Homelessness charity Shelter have voiced their "shock" at the advert.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter said: “It’s outrageous that a construction site is being touted as a desirable place to sleep at night, if this advert is indeed real.

"This is another shocking reminder of the extent of our housing crisis. A crisis that is forcing people to resort to truly desperate measures to put any kind of roof over their head. It is essential that the government does more to protect renters’ rights and helps provide more homes which are genuinely affordable to rent.”